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August 7, 2017

About automated vehicles

  • If designed well, automated vehicles have considerable potential for reducing congestion, increasing safety, and providing new transportation solutions for people who currently cannot drive.
  • This study is one of many being conducted to determine how best to design automated vehicles.
  • This study is investigating the potential need for additional exterior signals on automated vehicles.
  • This research is relevant for ensuring pedestrians, cyclists, and other drivers are accommodated.
  • The study results will be made public.

About the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI)

  • VTTI has been conducting transportation research for three decades.
  • VTTI works closely with all involved in the performance of a study to ensure safety is maintained while study data are collected.
  • VTTI is a pioneer in studying advanced technologies in real-world environments; in collaboration with local municipalities, further research into this arena can be performed to evaluate the potential benefits for Virginia citizens.

Safety-related information

  • The driver’s seating area is configured to make the driver less visible within the vehicle, while still allowing him or her the ability to safely monitor and respond to surroundings.
  • Development of the test vehicle focused on ensuring driver safety and included several months of piloting and testing the vehicle, first in controlled areas, then in low-density areas and finally in an urban area.
  • All VTTI studies are approved by the Virginia Tech Institutional Review Board, which is charged with the protection of human subjects in research.

State and county involvement

  • Arlington County officials were included during the planning of this work.
  • Arlington County was selected for this study because it is representative of the urban areas for which automated vehicles are currently being considered.

Value of study in relation to Virginia

  • Research projects such as this (e.g., studying human behavior in the presence of new technology in the real world) are extremely valuable to policy makers and vehicle manufacturers.
  • Combining a seasoned transportation research institute like VTTI with an urban environment as robust as Arlington County will result in an ideal platform for this and future studies with a variety of potential transportation technology companies.
  • This study will continue to advance Virginia as among the few states performing automated-vehicle research.
  • This work provides an excellent opportunity for establishing multi-agency coordination that will be of value in automated-vehicle studies going forward with the Commonwealth.