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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation
OFFICE OF RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT, AND TECHNOLOGY AT THE TURNER-FAIRBANK HIGHWAY RESEARCH CENTER

Intelligent Transportation Systems Technologies Projects

 Develop intelligent transportation systems and enabling technologies.

"This diagram shows connections between that various parts of ITS Technologies Projects. Three headings form around a round traffic light/connectivity icon at the center: Efficiency, Safety, and Communication Networks and Support. The efficiency elements are: traffic incident and response detection, congestion stabilization, variable message signage, and post-incident traffic restoration. The safety components are: vehicle-to-pedestrian, camera, radar, and smartphone app development; pedestrian wayfinding and navigation; and bike and shared signage. The communication networks and support components are: vehicle-to-everything communication, continued research capabilities and technology development, data collection, and real-time data for road, traffic, and weather."

Researchers behind intelligent transportation systems (ITS) technologies projects identify and develop deployment-ready technologies aimed at improving transportation systems management and operations and enabling intelligent transportation systems. Projects in this area support the role of ITS technologies in transportation development related to safety, efficiency, and communication networks and support.

Safety

Researchers behind safety projects identify challenges to driver, pedestrian, and other road-user safety and conduct evaluations of potential ITS technologies in combatting these challenges. These researchers investigate several concepts, including the following:

Connectivity-based vehicle-to-pedestrian (V2P) systems: ITS technologies researchers identify challenges to driver awareness of pedestrians and other road users, and they determine potential benefits of V2P technology in improving road-user safety by reducing the chances of collision.

  • Camera-, radar-, and smartphone-based systems aid the detection of at-risk pedestrians and can be useful for reducing collisions when pedestrians behave unexpectedly or are difficult to see, when drivers are distracted away from the roadway, or in crowded urban settings.
  • Studies found that drivers who receive advanced warning messages are more likely to stop for pedestrians compared with drivers who do not receive advanced warning messages. Drivers receiving advanced warnings, when compared with drivers not receiving advanced warnings, approach crosswalks at slower speeds and with less speed variation.

Pedestrian wayfinding and navigation guidance: Through ITS technologies initiatives, researchers conduct evaluations of pedestrian wayfinding and navigation technologies, including identifying capabilities and limitations, to provide foundations for future research and development needs.

Bike and shared street signage: Researchers behind ITS technologies projects examine sign design alternatives for bike and shared street signs through evaluation and testing to generate implementation-ready recommendations for sign options on traffic control devices.

Efficiency

Researchers supporting efficiency projects develop and disseminate ITS technologies that improve transportation mobility through systems management and predictive performance. Projects investigate several concepts, including the following:

Transportation efficiency: ITS technologies can address the congestion problem by stabilizing fluctuations in demand to optimize traffic flows and enhance capacity, thereby contributing to mobility improvements on the Nation’s roadways.

  • Simulated traffic optimization for signalized corridors (TOSCo) execution on corridors demonstrate noticeable improvements in stops and delays. TOSCo vehicles make better judgments on coordination and speed profile for optimized path planning.

Incident detection and response: Integration of ITS technologies to automate traffic incident detection and response enhances predictive performance, which helps detect, respond to, and remove incidents and restore traffic operations of highway systems as safely and quickly as possible.

  • Artificial intelligence-based frameworks to automate incident detection perform better than classical approaches in terms of higher detection rate, lower false alarm rate, and shorter time to detect.

Next Generation Traffic Management Systems (TMSs): Next-Generation TMS is focused on improving the active monitoring, management, control, and coordination of traffic and travel on the surface transportation system through the next generation of TMSs. This research aims to help agencies identify the issues to consider in assessing, planning, designing, managing, operation, and performance of the next generation of TMSs. The next generation of TMSs will need to be able to share and use data with or from connected vehicles, connected mobile devices, other traffic systems, public management systems (e.g., infrastructure), or stakeholders (e.g., emergency responders). 

Current Projects:

Proposed Projects:

Transportation Management Center (TMC) Pooled Fund Study (PFS): The TMC PFS is a group of public agencies and organizations that pool together their research funds to address key challenges and issues they are facing to support improving performance, capabilities, and how they manage and operate their TMSs. Currently, more than 20 agencies (e.g., State departments of transportation, public agencies) and organizations (e.g., regional operating and toll authorities) contribute funding and work in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to identify, select, initiate, and develop technical resources and facilitate the sharing of information and practices.

  • TMC PFS website (contains details on membership, current and proposed projects, and status).
  • TMC PFS Fact Sheet.

Communication Networks and Support

Researchers behind communication network projects develop and test communication and sensor devices and refine data tools to enhance the research capabilities for ITS technologies projects. Researchers behind these projects investigate several concepts, including the following:

Vehicle-to-everything communication: Through extensive data exchanges, ITS technologies enable communication among all parts of connected deployments, including vehicles, infrastructure, pedestrians, cyclists, and emergency services. 

Enhanced research capability: Continual development of ITS enabling technologies, tools, and equipment expands research capabilities to support current and future projects affiliated with cooperative technology and ITS.

Data environment maintenance: ITS technologies provide the tools for collecting, maintaining, analyzing, and fusing quality, real-time data on road, weather, and traffic conditions to support connected vehicle (CV) research, application development, decision making, and pilot demonstrations.

Support services: Programs are in place to offer guidance and assistance on CV application concepts using ITS and communications technologies. Services, which range from technical assistance to equipment loans, have allowed deployments to become more accessible, and they have encouraged adoptions by new users.

Open source software: ITS technologies initiatives encourage the integration of open-source software into existing deployments and contribute to the development of open-software suites to accelerate future deployments.

A comprehensive repository of projects and project data is available through the FHWA Research Projects Search.

Recent News

  • September/October 2019 edition of FHWA R&T Now describes misbehavior testing at Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center (TFHRC).
  • Summer 2019 issue of Public Roads features ITS technologies set to revolutionize transportation in Tampa, Florida.
  • FHWA awards $8 million to 10 States for innovative highway projects.