Cooperative Automated Transportation

Cooperative Automated Transportation, including autonomous and connected vehicles, has the potential to improve safety and enhance livability for all our residents.

WSDOT is committed to preparing for the evolution of Cooperative Automated Transportation technologies, viewing it not as replacing drivers with technology but rather finding ways to enhance livability in our communities while planning for the future.

Chart showing levels of vehicle automation from 0 - no automation - to 5 - where vehicle can perform all driving functions under any condition.

  • Connected vehicles are able to communicate automatically with other vehicles and infrastructure.
  • Autonomous vehicles (also called fully automated or self-driving) do not require a driver to operate the vehicle or monitor roadway conditions. There are several levels of increasing automation.

Chart showing levels of vehicle automation from 0 - no automation - to 5 - where vehicle can perform all driving functions under any condition.

 

What is WSDOT doing to prepare and plan for Cooperative Automated Transportation?

WSDOT's internal Cooperative Automated Transportation Work Group is investigating the challenges and opportunities CAT brings to Washington roadways. WSDOT is focused on the infrastructure needs of connected and automated vehicles as well as CAT’s implications for transit and freight travel, while also working with other state agencies on broader CAT topics. The WSDOT work group serves as a consolidated clearinghouse to communicate, coordinate, evaluate and pursue CAT related issues; provide insight, guidance, and direction; and establish institutional knowledge and expertise within multiple WSDOT divisions. Members also lead and participate in regional and national CAT related forums.

WSDOT CAT Pilot Projects

  • Winter operations –Using various connected vehicle technologies, WSDOT shared data from snow plows and other data sources to inform motorists of road and adverse weather conditions.
  • Traffic signals – Traffic signals – Testing how existing WSDOT signal systems can better communicate with vehicles to improve intersection safety and timing as well as overall traffic operations.
  • Automated work zone vehicles - Improving safety by eliminating the need for a driver in some staging vehicles.

Other areas of CAT focus/study within WSDOT

  • Connecting people to transit – Including autonomous shuttles and first/last mile connections to transit and rideshare companies (40 percent of every day trips are one mile or less; 60 percent of these trips are taken in an automobile).
  • Transit automation – Helping buses avoid blind spot crashes with pedestrian and bicyclists.
  • Roadway signing and striping – improvements that benefit current drivers and also prepare systems for CAT vehicles.
  • Driver assisted truck platooning – Can potentially increase safety and efficiency as well as reduces fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Active traffic management – Connected vehicles communicating with each other and the infrastructure will help make traffic operations more efficient.

 

Testing in Washington state

While not regulated by WSDOT, the safe use of any Cooperative Automated Transportation vehicle is a priority for the state. Gov. Jay Inslee set parameters for safe operations and testing and his executive order requires:

  • Certification with the Department of Licensing
  • Proof of financial responsibility
  • Compliance with all laws and regulations
  • Equipment that can bring the vehicle to a safe condition in the event of system failure.
  • Further questions about tesing or certification of autonomous vehicles can be sent to the Department of Licensing at autonmousvehicles@dol.wa.gov 

Contact:

Ted Bailey, P.E.
Cooperative Automated Transportation Program Manager
360-705-7286
BaileyTe@wsdot.wa.gov