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Connected and Automated Transportation and Mobility

Researchers in all groups at UMTRI are performing research to facilitate the development and integration of connected and automated vehicles and systems onto roadways around the world.

Researchers in UMTRI’s engineering systems group have been working in the area of active safety and automated control technologies for more than 25 years. This group investigates safety and mobility effects of various automated and connected technologies as well as traffic control using existing and future forms of roadway infrastructure. Methods include conducting lab simulations, modeling big data from the field, performing large field studies using instrumented fleets of cars, trucks, buses, and bicycles.

A safe and successful deployment of CAVs will depend on how the driver will interact with advanced driving systems. Researchers at UMTRI are developing and testing a host of experimental protocols designed to reveal the potential for inattentive driving, issues of trust, comprehension of how the systems operate, acceptance to how AVs maneuver, as well as developing efficient instructional methods to improve drivers' interaction with CAVs. Researchers also are looking at how CAVs can address some of the most critical issues in transportation safety including the safety of vulnerable road users like pedestrians and bicyclists, as well as how ride sharing might improve accessibility and overall quality of life.

Researchers in the Driver Interface Group at UMTRI are working directly with industry to evaluate the design and usability of vehicle controls, displays and other CAV information systems, and to write design guidelines and develop methods for evaluating future systems. They also develop and test driver interfaces for SAE Level 2 and 3 vehicles.

Even with advancements in driver-assistance systems, crashes will still be common in the coming decades. Research in the Biosciences group has shown that even occupants of an automated vehicle that cannot cause a crash will still need advanced crash protection systems due to the risks of being hit by other vehicles. Fortunately, crash protection for vehicle occupants continues to improve, thanks to research focusing on individual differences. UMTRI’s experts in the Biosciences Group use physical testing and computational modeling to understand how differences in body shape, age, and the posture within a vehicle affect crash protection so that everyone can be protected well. People with disabilities, seniors, and children all will benefit from this continued focus on crash protection. Many concepts for future automated vehicles have included use cases that are currently unusual, such as rear-facing seats or highly reclined seats for sleeping. Biosciences researchers are conducting a range of research to understand how occupants in these alternative scenarios can be well protected when crashes occur. This group also investigates how likely occupants of AV's are likely to become motion sick, particularly when they are engaged in tasks like read or responding to email.

Despite the rapid proliferation of AV's onto our roadways, driver decision making and behavior will continue to play a critical role in the success and safety of AV's. One important focus of the UMTRI Behavioral Sciences Group is conducting research that will help us better understand how drivers, particularly vulnerable drivers such as older adults and teens, learn about and use AV technologies and systems. In addition, researchers in the BSG are involved in research to examine factors associated with trust in AV's and how trust influences the acceptance and use of vehicle automation.

How many miles of travel are needed for an AV manufacturer to thoroughly demonstrate that their vehicle or AV system is at least as safe as a traditional vehicle? UMTRI experts have access to petabytes of efficient and high-quality naturalistic data sets, crash data for the U.S. and several states, as well as the largest set of connected vehicle data in the world. This data will better inform manufacturers, and policy makers in their pursuit of a national connected vehicle network and AV deployment. This group is also engaged in the design and optimization of shared mobility systems.

UMTRI researchers utilize state-of-the-art laboratories and other research facilities across campus. These facilities enable them to evaluate all forms of AV systems under highly-controlled, safe, experimental conditions, and include instrumented vehicles, injury biomechanical facilities, dynamic sled labs, and a vehicle lighting lab to name a few.

Recent Publications

Road safety with self-driving vehicles :  general limitations and road sharing with conventional vehicles
Michael Sivak, Brandon Schoettle

report UMTRI-2015-2 

Self- driving vehicles are expected to improve road safety, improve the mobility of those who currently cannot use conventional...

Multipath SPAT Broadcast Project
Ralph Robinson, Francois Dion.

report UMTRI-2013-9

The Multipath Signal Phase and Timing (SPAT)Broadcast Project demonstrates a Safe Green Passage traffic signal application that...

Evaluation of usability of IntelliDrive probe vehicle data for transportation systems performance analysis
Francois Dion, Ralph Robinson, Jun-Seok Oh.

journal article IN: Journal of Transportation Engineering. Vol. 137, no. 3 (2011), p. 174-183

This paper assesses various issues associated with the use of IntelliDrive probe vehicle data generated according to existing protocols...

Integrated vehicle-based safety systems field operational test final program report.
J. Sayer, D. LeBlanc, S. Bogard, D. Funkhouser, S. Bao, M. L. Buonarosa, A. Blankespoor.

report UMTRI-2010-36; DOT HS 811 482

This document presents results from the light-vehicle and heavy-truck field operational tests performed as part of the Integrated...

Integrated vehicle-based safety systems light-vehicle field operational test key findings report.
James R. Sayer, Scott E. Bogard, Mary Lynn Buonarosa, David J. LeBlanc, Dillon S. Funkhouser, Shan Bao, Adam D. Blankespoor, and Christopher B. Winkler.

report DOT HS 811 416; UMTRI-2010-21

This document presents key findings from the light-vehicle field operational test conducted as part of the Integrated Vehicle-Based...