Focus areas provide direction on the research objectives of the EAR Program. A focus area is a defined topic area where breakthroughs are most needed, or where there is high potential for long-term, higher-risk research to lead to dramatic improvements.
FHWA has and continues to work with partners in the research community to develop and modify focus areas for the EAR Program. Current areas of interest include.
- Integrated Highway System Concepts — This focus area emphasizes the longer-term needs to reach critical departmental safety and mobility goals by developing the theory and assessing feasibility for systems that leapfrog current technological approaches for linking infrastructure with future vehicle and personal mobile technology
- Nano-Scale Research — This focus area cuts across all functional areas and takes advantages of higher magnitudes of investment from other agencies to support of greater highway system resilience, improved safety and operations, and reduced environmental impacts. It encompasses modeling and measuring phenomena to increase an understanding of properties as well as the application of scientific advances from other fields critical to improving the safety, reliability and resilience of the highway system.
- Human Behavior and Travel Choices — This focus area leverages research concepts from the social sciences including psychology and economics along with more traditional research for improving safety, reducing congestion, and improving the livability of the nation's communities
- New Technology and Advanced Policies for Energy and Resource Conservation — This focus area cuts across infrastructure, operations and societal and complex natural systems to support innovative methods for reducing highway industry costs and move towards sustainability
- Information Sciences — This focus area takes advantage of paradigm shifting breakthroughs found across academia, government and the private sector in the computer and information technology fields including automation, data processing and management, computing, cyber (or virtual) systems, communication, and visualization
- Breakthrough Concepts in Material Science — This focus area leverages new approaches in materials science to produce innovative new highway materials with characteristics that enable enhanced functionality (including multi-functionality), constructability, sustainability, cost effectiveness or operating characteristics of highway infrastructure and system monitoring sensors to enhance highway safety, reliability, and resilience.
- Technology for Assessing Performance — This focus area seeks novel approaches and breakthrough technology that will revolutionize the use of performance management in the highway sector