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Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Exploratory Advanced Research Program

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Focus Areas

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

  • Connected Highway and Vehicle System Concepts — This focus area emphasizes the longer-term needs to reach critical FHWA 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 mobility technology.  

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

Cross-Cutting Areas

  • Nanoscale Research—Cuts across all primary focus  areas and takes advantage of higher magnitudes of investment from other agencies in support of greater highway system resilience, improved safety and operations, and reduced environmental impacts. This focus area encompasses modeling and measuring phenomena to increase understanding of properties as well as applying scientific advances from other fields that are critical to improving the safety, reliability, and resilience of the highway system. 

  • Information Sciences—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, visualization, and control.  


Exploratory Advanced Research Program

Research Highlights


Exploratory Advanced Research Program Brochure,(FHWA-HRT-13-071)- November 2013

Multimedia Downloads

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

Project Fact Sheets

Efficient and Safe Merging Solutions - Advanced Freeway Merge Assistance: Harnessing The Potential of Connected Vehicles,(FHWA-HRT-14-045)- February 2014


Multiscale Materials Modeling Workshop Summary Report April 23-24, 2013(FHWA-HRT-13-103)- December 2013

Scanning and Convening Activities Fact Sheets

Exploring Bridge Maintenance and Asset Management,(FHWA-HRT-11-052)- June 2011


Multiscale Materials Modeling Workshop Summary Report April 23-24, 2013(FHWA-HRT-13-103)- December 2013

Web Articles

For Georgia State Students, EAR Program Opens a Window on Transportation Research ()- March 2014

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