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CARMA Research Tracks

The introduction of cooperative driving automation (CDA) concepts to the transportation system will affect several existing transportation systems management and operations (TSMO) strategies. To anticipate the scope of these impacts, the CARMASM Program is developing research tracks that explore traffic, reliability, and freight operations scenarios. The research tracks will encourage stakeholder collaboration to accelerate the development, testing, and deployment of CDA.

"research tracks illustration"

Source: FHWA.

Figure 1. Illustration. CARMA research tracks.


The traffic research track explores CDA application to recurring traffic congestion on freeways and arterials. Through partnerships with the Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office (ITS-JPO), Federal Transit Administration (FTA), and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the FHWA is using CARMA software to develop CDA systems to improve traffic flow by reducing recurring congestion at traffic signals, intersections, and bottleneck areas.

"Three cars from the CARMA fleet."

Source: FHWA.

Figure 2. Photo. Three passenger vehicles from the CARMA research fleet.

The traffic research track identifies operational scenarios demonstrating how CDA can significantly enhance conventional TSMO strategies and existing infrastructure for basic travel on freeways and arterials. The research track involves updates to existing CARMA research tools, including CARMA Platform℠ and CARMA Cloud℠, to enable further capabilities for CDA participants to interact with road infrastructure, boost infrastructure performance, and improve network efficiency.

The traffic research track aims to demonstrate how the introduction of CDA can increase throughput, reduce energy consumption, and ensure safety at signalized and unsignalized intersections and corridors. The research track also identifies the organizational, technological, facility infrastructure, and operational policy changes necessary for the deployment of CDA systems, as well as the impacts of implementing planned changes.


The reliability research track explores CDA application to nonrecurring traffic congestion on freeways and arterials. Through partnerships with the ITS-JPO and FMCSA, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is using CARMA software to develop CDA systems planned to improve traffic flows by reducing nonrecurring congestion resulting from active work zones, inclement weather, traffic incidents, or other anomalies.

"Work zone management photo"

Source: FHWA.

Figure 3. Photo. Work zone management research track scenario.

The reliability research track identifies the traditional TSMO strategies for road weather management, traffic incident management (TIM), and work zones CDA is expected to impact. Each scenario examines the actions the entity responsible for TSMO activities, such as an organization operating a transportation management service (TMS), will perform to achieve the proposed TSMO strategies.

Representative scenarios for road weather management, TIM, and work zones provided under the reliability research track deliver a basic understanding of the response actions and specific protocols involved. Ultimately, the reliability research track aims to highlight the enhanced response actions to traffic anomalies—and subsequent improvements in traffic performance—made possible through CDA deployment.


The freight research track explores CDA application to commercial motor vehicle (CMV) and port operations. CDA deployment for freight operations has the potential to increase system efficiencies and safety while decreasing emissions. Through partnerships with FMCSA, U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD), and ITS-JPO, the FHWA is using CARMA software to develop CDA systems aimed at facilitating automated freight operations at maritime ports and terminals and on the Nation’s vast freight network.

"Four CARMA freight fleet trucks."

Source: FHWA.

Figure 4. Photo. Four heavy vehicles from the CARMA research fleet.

The freight research track will demonstrate connected and autonomous vehicle technology applications in a mock port with the loading and unloading of chassis and containers, inspection point passage, gate passage, and short-haul drayage. A proof-of-concept application developed under the research track will demonstrate how CDA concepts can increase cargo capacity and the reliability of freight movement through ports.

The freight research track aims to identify opportunities to conduct research addressing critical freight movement and ITS infrastructure gaps—including identifying opportunities for pilot projects and programs. Freight research will also explore CMV cybersecurity challenges and opportunities, CDA operation in work zones, and CDA response to emergency vehicles.

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CARMA Traffic
Govindarajan Vadakpat
CARMA Technical Program Manager

CARMA Freight
Hyungjun Park
CARMA Technical Program Manager

CARMA Reliability
Pavle Bujanovic
CARMA Technical Manager