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Exploratory Advanced Research Program

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FHWA Commitment and Corporate Objectives for Advanced Research

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TRB Annual Meeting
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Session 505

FHWA Mission

Enhanced Mobility through Innovation, Leadership, and Public Service

…and Roles

  • Leaders for National Mobility
  • Stewards for National Highway Programs
  • Innovators for a Better Future

Scope of FHWA Role in R&T

  • Conducting research
  • Supporting research by:
    • State DOT’s Universities
    • Private industry
    • Stimulating development and innovation
    • Facilitating technology transfer and deployment
    • Educating the transportation professional of the future

FHWA R&T Focus Areas

R&T in FHWA covers the entire innovation process, including research, development, innovation deployment, education, and training.


  • Safety
  • Infrastructure
  • Transportation System Management and Operations
  • Planning/Environment/Real Estate Services
  • Policy
  • Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS)

A Strategic Approach

Corporate Master plan cover FHWA Commitment recognizes the need to focus on high-risk research with high payoff potential.

Advanced Research defined:

"Research that involves and draws upon basic research results to provide a better understanding of phenomena and develop innovative solutions. Sometimes referred to as exploratory research in order to convey its more fundamental character, its broader objectives, and the greater uncertainty in expected outcomes compared to problem-solving research."

Advanced research project leads to licensed technology

  • Southwest Research Institute developed a nondestructive inspection system using magnetostrictive sensing (MsS)
  • “CableScan” is a commercially available service resulting from this study, which originated out of FHWA’s advanced research program.

Authorized Funding for RT&E Programs

Surface Transportation Research, Development and Deployment
Training and Education
Bureau of Transportation Statistics
University Transportation Research
Intelligent Transportation
Systems Research


Note: ITS Deployment receives $122 million under SAFETEA-LU, but only in FY 2005.

SAFETEA-LU Funding for Exploratory Advanced Research

$14 Million for each of fiscal years 2005 - 2009

SAFETEA-LU Program Guidelines

  • Consistent with surface transportation research and technology strategic plan
  • Address long-term, higher-risk research with potentially dramatic breakthroughs
  • Strive to develop public and private partnerships

SAFETEA-LU Research Areas

  1. Characterization of materials used in highway infrastructure.
  2. Assessment of the effects of transportation decisions on human health.
  3. Development of surrogate measures of safety.
  4. Environmental research.
  5. Data acquisition techniques for system condition and performance monitoring.
  6. System performance data and information processing.

Where do we go from here?

drawing of a man in front of a street sign pointing in various directions
Think Tank Recommendations
R&T Leadership Team & Roadmaps
RTCC Recommendations

Program Delivery

  • UTC Program – Universities address identified Adv. Research focus areas
  • NSF - $1.5M leveraged w/ $1.5M match (joint research, NSF-managed)
    • Facilitate TFHRC/University partnerships (principal investigator with lab manager)
  • TRB IDEA Program for AR


Exploratory Advanced Research Program

Research Highlights


Ear Program Research Results - Updated Through 2014,(FHWA-HRT-15-024)- December 2014

Multimedia Downloads

Investigating Advanced Traffic Signal Control, (N/A)- April 2011

Project Fact Sheets

Assistive Technologies for Visually Impaired Persons,(FHWA-HRT-15-040)- February 2015

Reference Scans

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Applications for Highway Transportation,(FHWA-HRT-14-037)- November 2013


National Multimodal Freight Analysis Framework Research Workshop,(FHWA-HRT-14-054)- January 2015

Scanning and Convening Activities Fact Sheets

Understanding Material Durability - Workshop Examines Aging of Composite Materials,(FHWA-HRT-14-068)- June 2014


Technological Innovations in Transportation for People with Disabilities: Workshop Executive Summary(FHWA-HRT-11-042)- September 2011

Web Articles

Emission Reductions, Fuel Savings Demonstrated at Turner-Fairbank ()-

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