Automated & Electrified Highway Systems Research on Design, Development and Implementation Issues

Will Robot Cars get Stuck in Policy Traffic?, by Joseph Coughlin, 8/20/2012

Link to a report entitled Self-Driving Cars: the Next Generation, 36 pp, 8/19/2012

Link to an article comparing high speed rail and driverless cars in California, 2/19/2012

Links to Freedom Transit website, details in 30 page paper and 1 page WhyFT? statement 1/25/2011

Extensive and current information about Robocars and their potential for use in urban areas, April, 2011

National Automated Highway System Consortium Reports from 1997 now available online -
includes details from theSan Diego automated vehicle technologies at Demo '97. 

White Paper: Automated People Transportation: Applications, Technologies and Perspectives 

Back to the Futurama with cooperative-mobility, July, 2010

US DOT White Paper: Achieving the Vision: From VII to IntelliDrive, May, 2010

US DOT Intelligent Transportation Systems Strategic Plan, 2010-2014 , May, 2010

ITS American Transportation Technology News - subscriptions available

Transportation Research Record: Intelligent Transportation Systems and Vehicle-Highway Automation, 2007 

Link to a video that describes an autonomous taxi concept in Germany, October, 2010

Link to a video that describes GM's Project PUMA: Driving the Future of Transportation, Nov., 2010

From Italy to China on Autopilot, Wired magazine article, November, 2010

Link to article entitled Social Ramifications of Autonomous Urban Land Vehicles, 12/21/2010

Some History

A large AHS research effort was mounted in the early 1990's in the U.S.  Many of the issues that were investigated are still very much on the agenda of those interested in developing and deploying both intracity and intercity Automated Highway Systems. A brief summary of the main components of AHS work around the world is presented below. For a more recent (2003) and more detailed history and discussion of a broad range of  issues, see An Overview of AHSs and Social and Institutional Challenges They Face, by Sanghyun Cheon. Also, see the Table of Contents of the book edited by Prof. Ioannou entitled Automated Highway Systems, 1996.  In 2005, Intelligent Vehicle Technologies and Trends was published by Richard Bishop.

In 1993, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) awarded fifteen Precursor Systems Analyses (PSA) research contracts totaling $14.1M to investigate the issues and risks related to the design, development, and implementation of Automated Highway Systems (AHS). These contracts, each of approximately one year duration, were awarded during the period July through September, 1993, based on a Broad Agency Announcement issued by FHWA in November, 1992. At the time, the AHS program was part of a major initiative of the US Department of Transportation in Intelligent Vehicle/Highway Systems. This program was subsequently terminated in 1998. See the TRB Special Report #253 entitled National Automated Highway System Research Program: A Review, for details. However, research has continued on several AHS topics. Abstracts of two recent papers that describe this work are available on-line.

Summarized below is a listing of the 20 activity areas within which research was conducted under the AHS PSA program. These PSA studies were conducted as part of the early stages of the government's AHS Program. Additional details regarding the AHS program and the contractors that performed these studies are provided here. This is a rich collection of information about a wide variety of AHS problems and opportunities. The full text of the 72 reports (85,000 pages) is available on a CD-ROM which can be checked-out from from the Volpe Center Library.

Precursor Systems Analyses Research Topics

A) Urban and Rural AHS Comparison -- an analysis which defines and contrasts the urban and rural operational environments relative to AHS deployment

B) Automated Check-In -- issues relating to certifying vehicle equipment is functioning properly for AHS operation, in a manner enabling smooth flow onto the system

C) Automated Check-Out -- issues relating to transitioning control to the human driver and certifying vehicle equipment in functioning properly for manual operation

D) Lateral and Longitudinal Control Analysis -- technical analyses relating to automated vehicle control

E) Malfunction Management and Analysis -- analyses relating to design approaches for an AHS which is highly reliable and fault tolerant

F) Commercial Transit AHS Analysis -- issues relating to the unique needs of commercial and transit vehicles operating within the AHS

G) Comparable Systems Analysis -- an effort to derive “lessons learned” from other system development and deployment efforts with similarities to AHS

H) AHS Roadway Deployment Analysis -- issues relating to the deployability of possible AHS configurations within existing freeway networks

I) Impact of AHS on Surrounding Non-AHS Roadways -- analysis of the overall network impact of AHS deployment and development of mitigation strategies

J) AHS Entry/Exit Implementation -- analysis of highway design issues relating to the efficient flow of vehicles on and off of the AHS facility

K) AHS Roadway Operational Analysis -- issues relating to the ongoing operation of an AHS

L) Vehicle Operational Analysis -- issues relating to the operation of an AHS vehicle, including the retrofitting of vehicles for AHS operation

M) Alternative Propulsion Systems Impact -- analysis of possible impacts alternately propelled vehicles may have on AHS deployment and operation

N) AHS Safety Issues -- broad analysis of safety issues pertaining to AHS

O) Institutional and Societal Aspects -- broad analysis of the many non-technical issues which are critical to successful deployment of AHS

P) Preliminary Cost/Benefit Factors Analysis -- an early assessment of the factors which comprise the costs an benefits of AHS.

Q) Preliminary Measures of Performance -- an analysis that projects initial system performance specifications milestones for an AHS program.

R) Other Reports -- additional analyses of various AHS areas.

S) Summary Reports -- Summaries and assessements of findings.

In 2000, Steven Shladover wrote an article entitled "What If Cars Could Drive Themselves?". It generated two critiques, one by Henderson and one by Guadagno. A description of how an Automated Highway System might follow an evolutionary path is also available. In August, 2003, a demonstration of Automated Bus Rapid Transit technology was held in San Diego, California. A full report on the results is available.

For an assessment of AHS activities around the world, see the article by Richard Bishop entitled "Whatever Happened to AHS?". It includes considerable information about AHS activities in Japan and Europe. The main AHS activity in the U.S. at this time is being conducted by the Cooperative Vehicle-Highway Automated Systems group.

In 2006, a U.S. company called Teraleaf, opened a website that describes their evolutionary approach to full highway automation.

Here is a website that is focused on Automated Roadway Vehicles

Link to a description of a roadmap (strategy) for deployment of Robocars

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Last modified: August 20, 2012