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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

Intelligent Transportation Systems Technologies

 Develop intelligent transportation systems and enabling technologies.

"This chart shows the various influences and results of ITS technologies. At left, there is a traffic light/connectivity icon labeled “ITS” with an arrow pointing to a diagram with the header “vehicles” at the top, and “infrastructure” at the bottom. Two large arrows pointing to and from each header indicate a circular process, or dependency between the two. At the middle of this diagram is a list of three crucial components: communications, data management, and sensors. The bulleted list on the right side of the chart reads: transportation safety, mobility, and environmental sustainability."

The intelligent transportation systems (ITS) technologies focus area aims to develop innovations to advance transportation safety, mobility, and environmental sustainability. ITS technologies augment traditional infrastructure improvement approaches by integrating advanced communications technologies into vehicles and existing infrastructure to improve transportation operations, efficiency, and reliability. 

ITS technologies are targeted at infrastructure, vehicles, and travelers, as well as integrated applications among them, to enable the development of an intelligent transportation system. Successful ITS deployments include electronic toll collection, traffic signal coordination, ramp meters, and traveler information systems.

Research is underway to optimize existing and developing innovative ITS technologies for further deployment to realize the ultimate benefits of a fully connected and information-rich transportation system. ITS technologies projects are primarily targeted at the following three key areas:

  • Safety: ITS technologies can enhance road-user safety through connectivity-based systems and applications. Researchers behind these projects identify challenges to driver, pedestrian, and other road-user safety, and they conduct evaluations of potential ITS technologies targeting these challenges. 
  • Efficiency: ITS technologies can improve transportation mobility through predictive performance. Researchers advancing these projects develop ITS technologies and frameworks for connectivity-based applications that improve transportation system efficiency. 
  • Communication networks and support: Communication devices, sensing systems, and data-collection tools enhance the capabilities of ITS technologies projects. Researchers working on these projects update and maintain communication network tools to ensure high-quality data collection and processing, and they provide support services to streamline the deployment of ITS technologies and encourage new user adoption.

The integration of advanced communications technologies into transportation infrastructure and vehicles offers innovative solutions to some of the transportation system’s most serious challenges. The insights gleaned and deployments achieved through ITS technologies research continue to moderate the environmental impact of surface transportation while enhancing transportation safety and mobility. Ultimately, they improve quality of life of all Americans.

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.
Last updated: Monday, November 1, 2021