Autonomous vehicles and NDOT’s new innovation office, NV2X
By Scott Bohemier, NV2X
I’m adapting an article written by Scott Bohemier that will appear in an upcoming edition of Nevada DOT’s internal Safe and Connected newsletter. Many thanks to Scott for letting us use his article! — M.I.)
Connected and Autonomous vehicles (CAVs) are commonly used together to refer to one type of vehicle under one big umbrella. Some of their potential benefits as well as bells and whistles are similar, but they are clearly different when you drill in to the technologies. Crashes, traffic congestion, transportation costs and CO2 emissions could all be reduced by both. On the flip side, we must realize the potential for unplanned circumstances. As an example, negative impacts on employment, cybersecurity and the gasoline industry may arise to name a few. The positive influences that CAVs will have on the way we travel and the infrastructure we have become accustomed to, will far outweigh the negatives.
So, what’s the difference between connected and autonomous you ask?
To put it simply, a connected vehicle (CV) is one that is equipped and communicates to its surroundings using some form of wireless technology. A CVs communication platform has different categories and levels of connection. These categories include V2V (vehicle to vehicle), V2I (vehicle to infrastructure) and V2X (vehicle to everything). V2V technology allows for connection between vehicles as they navigate the roadways. Communication will be done through a 5.9 GHz system commonly used by WiFi networks today. V2I is a bi-directional system where vehicles share data with various infrastructure components. This link is primarily through dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) but will also use 5g and WiFi technology. V2X connects everything together and even includes communication with pedestrians (through cellphones). The V2X platform will improve safety, energy consumption and traffic congestion to name a few.
Autonomous vehicles (AVs) are defined by NHTSA as “those in which operation of the vehicle occurs without direct driver input to control the steering, acceleration, and braking and are designed so that the driver is not expected to constantly monitor the roadway while operating in self-driving mode”. AV performance can be enhanced by connectivity, but an AV can also function on its own. These vehicles are being deployed right now with various levels of autonomy. You will begin to hear AVs referred to with levels of 0 thru 5. These levels describe the amount of autonomy each vehicle has. For example, a level 0 vehicle is just what you expect, a vehicle with no automation. Considering the number of vehicles in commission, not many level 0 vehicles still exist. Even an option as simple as cruise control is considered a type of automation. On the other end of the spectrum, level 5 refers to a vehicle which needs no human interaction to navigate the roadway. Vehicles with various levels are already on the road today. Self-parking, adaptive cruise control and accident avoidance technology have become commonly installed options. It was also just announced that a stop sign recognition platform is being implemented by a major car manufacturer. Fully autonomous level 5 vehicles are being deployed in limited capacity and being used in controlled environments.
Here at NV2X, connecting Nevada’s transportation to everything is just what we do. It is our goal to play an integral part, helping to revolutionize transportation in Nevada. NV2X will focus on assisting with the development of an overarching strategy for the implementation and integration of emerging transportation technologies. The highway system as we know it today has gradually developed and been fine-tuned systematically for years. Today, vehicle and infrastructure technology is being deployed at warp speed. NV2X is dedicated to exploring the unlimited potential of these technologies and prepare NDOT with a plan for the future. Emerging technologies including CAVs will be an important part of our future at NDOT. To continue NDOT’s vision of being a leader and partner in delivering effective transportation solutions for a safe and connected Nevada, the impacts of technology will need to be considered.