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Automation collaboration: Roadway safety infrastructure and automotive industry connections will pave the way to self-driving vehicles

Automation collaboration: Roadway safety infrastructure and automotive industry connections will pave the way to self-driving vehicles

In recent years, there has been an uptick in collaboration between entities within the roadway safety infrastructure and automotive industries as Connected and Autonomous Vehicle (CAV) technologies progress and enter U.S. roadways. 


In a sweeping effort to ensure traffic control devices and roadway infrastructure effectively support the Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS) of CAVs, manufacturers and groups like the Automotive Safety Council, 3M, SAE International, and ATSSA are working together to uncover the gaps in information and needs to help these vehicles perform at an optimum level. 


“ATSSA is heavily invested in communicating with members of the automotive industry as technological advancements related to highway automation continue to progress,” ATSSA Director of New Programs Brian Watson said. “These are important discussions to hold and these connections will not only ensure we continue to advance toward an automated future—they will ensure we advance roadway safety.”


Watson said two active initiatives related to highway automation that the association has been active in are its participation in the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) National Dialogue on Highway Automation series. The association has also been collaborating with the Automotive Safety Council (ASC).


ATSSA was present at some of the six FHWA workshops in 2018 and was able to gather information about some of the leading issues related to highway automation as well as establish industry connections. The association has been regularly meeting with ASC to find ways roadway safety and infrastructure members can help support ADAS technology.


Doug Campbell, the council’s president, said that collaborations between members of the automotive industry and the roadway safety infrastructure industry are vital to the progression of highway automation.


“For the first time in history, we have the roadway infrastructure and vehicle safety sides working together to come up with solutions to improve safety for motorists and to enable CAVs in the future,” Campbell said. “It's been a great learning experience for both groups to come together and understand how each other's products interface and discuss what we can do together going forward.”


ASC has attended three different ATSSA meetings, and the association has been to three of the ASC’s council meetings. Campbell said these initial discussions have been a positive start to advance technologies and policies that will further enable highway automation.
“Teaming up together to come up with improved traffic control devices and roadway infrastructure that is uniform across the 50 states will allow the vehicles to use their sensors better—we think is a significant step forward,” Campbell said. 


Other collaborations within the roadway safety and automotive industries include 3M and ON Semiconductor’s announcement of a partnership to improve communication between roadway infrastructure and Connected Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) during the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada. Both companies displayed a model of ON Semiconductor’s image sensor (AR0234AT CMOS), which was integrated with 3M’s digitally enhanced sign technology.


According to Business Development Manager for the 3M Transportation Safety Division Sinan Yordem, 3M has worked on Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) since the late 1990s. Recently, within the last four to five years, 3M has shifted more of its focus to CAVs and their Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS).


“We understand that CAVs are much more present in our lives today through ADAS in the new vehicles that people purchase, and as we know from some of the media there's more autonomous testing on the roads and more connectivity in roadway infrastructure,” Yordem said. “These are the bigger trends in today's world.”


SAE International has created a task force dedicated to Cooperative Automation Transportation (CAT). Lastly, ATSSA is one of many groups that will be submitting recommendations on ways to adapt national standards for the installations and maintenance of traffic control devices to the FHWA, as the administration will be seeking commentary via a Notice of Prosed Amendments this fall for an updated version of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).
 

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