U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590

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Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

Overview | Projects



Saxton Transportation Operations Laboratory


The Saxton Transportation Operations Laboratory (Saxton Laboratory) is a state-of-the-art facility for conducting transportation operations research. The laboratory is located at Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center (TFHRC) in McLean, VA. The laboratory enables FHWA to validate and refine new transportation services and technologies before committing to larger scale research, development, testing, and deployment phases, and serves as a gateway where Federal staff, contractors, and academia collaborate on cutting-edge research. The Saxton Laboratory also supports professional development and technology transfer of innovative service concepts and technologies through knowledgeable onsite staff, physical prototype systems, and advanced simulation capabilities.

Saxton Laboratory Testbeds

This illustration shows three circles in a triangle formation. There are two circles at the top and once circle at the bottom. There are two-way directional arrows between each circle. The first circle includes the text, “Cooperative Vehicle-Highway Testbed.” In the center of the circle is a photograph of a vehicle traveling through an intersection. Above the vehicle are two traffic signals on an overhead pole. The circle to the right of that circle includes the text, “Concepts and Analysis Testbed. In the center of the circle is an illustration of an intersection with traffic traveling through the intersection. Below the two circles, and centered between them, is a circle with the text, “Data Resources Testbed.” In the center of the circle is an illustration of a data tree with indistinguishable text in each data tree.
Figure 1. Illustration of the Saxton Laboratory testbeds and how they are interconnected.

The Saxton Laboratory comprises three testbeds:

  • Data Resources Testbed (DRT) – Provides researchers with access to live and archived multisource transportation data to support transportation system performance measurement and transportation system management applications. The testbed assembles and archives data, hosts traffic datasets, analyzes operations and performance, provides advanced visualization tools to improve situational awareness, and aids strategic program and tactical operations decisionmaking.

  • Concepts and Analysis Testbed (CAT) – Incorporates a repository of macroscopic, mesoscopic, and microscopic transportation models to allow simulation runs and visualizations of representative traffic networks and experimental strategies to improve safety (to some extent), mobility, and environmental performance. The testbed allows FHWA research staff to refine the experimental strategies through direct interaction with the models and to determine the potential value of potential strategies to various stakeholders.

  • Cooperative Vehicle-Highway Testbed (CVHT) – Enables FHWA to explore enabling technologies for connected vehicles and to assess the potential of new transportation services based upon cooperative communication. The facilities, equipment, staff support, and other resources of this testbed enable FHWA researchers to develop prototypes, install systems in the roadside infrastructure and on vehicles, and conduct tests directed to investigate and answer key research questions needed to further connected vehicle research efforts.

The three testbeds help FHWA fulfill multiple operations research missions. For example, for a given test requirement, FHWA can validate fundamental technologies, collect data for proof-of-concept testing, and assess benefits through simulation by using the Saxton Laboratory testbeds.

Saxton Laboratory Facilities

The Saxton Laboratory includes the following facilities, which can support a broad range of research needs, particularly testing connected automation applications.

  • Connected Vehicle Fleet
    • Radar and Ultra Sonic Sensors
    • Front and Rear-Facing Cameras
    • 5.9 GHz Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC), Wi-Fi, and 4G Cellular/LTE Communications
    • Data Collection and Processing Systems
    • Localization System
    • Electronic Throttle and Brake Control Units

Figure 2: This photograph shows three side-by-side Cadillac sport utility vehicles in the Vehicle Preparation Garage at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center.
Figure 2. Photograph. Three of FHWA’s Connected Research Vehicles in the Vehicle Preparation Garage.

  • Vehicle Preparation Garage
    • Equipment Installation
    • Maintenance and Storage

  • Connected Traffic Signal
    • Roadside Communications (Roadside Equipment and Black Box)
    • Information Processing

  • Connected Road
    • 5.9 GHz DSRC
    • Wireless Pavement Sensors
    • High-Speed Cameras
    • Weather and Global Positioning System Base Station 
    • Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX), Cellular, and DSRC Communications 

Figure 3: This photograph shows a sport utility vehicle traveling through a connected intersection at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center. Above the vehicle are two traffic lights on an overhead polesignal mast arm. To the left of the vehicle is a traffic control cabinet with the door open, showing computerstraffic signal controllers and equipment inside the cabinet.
Figure 3. Photograph. Connected Intersection at TFHRC.

  • Connected Mobile Traffic Sensing System
    • Microwave Vehicle Detection 
    • Outdoor Pan/Tilt/Zoom Dome Cameras 
    • Solar Powered

  • Connected Laboratory
    •  State-of-the-Art Simulation and Analysis Tools
    •  High-Bandwidth Internet2 Connectivity
    •  High-Capacity Data Servers

Figure 4: This photograph shows six individuals in a work center sitting at their workstations. Three people near the front of the photo are working together on laptop computers. Three other people are working individually behind them at different workstations.
Figure 4. Photograph. Connected Saxton Laboratory at TFHRC.


Office of Operations R&D Links

» Office of Operations R&D
» Operations R&D Laboratory
» Operations R&D Projects
» Operations R&D Experts
» Operations R&D Publications
» Operations Topics


Laboratory Manager

Ferlis, Robert A (Bob)

Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center
6300 Georgetown Pike
McLean, VA 22101-2296


Other Operations Links

» FHWA's Office of Operations
» Research and Innovative Technology Administration's Intelligent Transportation Systems Connected Vehicle Research
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000
Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center | 6300 Georgetown Pike | McLean, VA | 22101