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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-16-004     Date:  May/June 2016
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-16-004
Issue No: Vol. 79 No. 6
Date: May/June 2016


Internet Watch

by Carrie Boris

Understanding Connected Technology

Connected vehicle technology promises safety, mobility, and environmental benefits that could improve all aspects of roadway planning, maintenance, operation, and use. However, its range of solutions and technologies are complex and can be difficult to fully comprehend. To address this issue, in fall 2015 the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office (ITS JPO) launched a new Web site describing the basics of connected vehicles in plain language.

The “Connected Vehicles Basics” Web site lays out the fundamentals in a way that everyone can understand. The interactive site explains why USDOT is so enthusiastic about the technology, which will wirelessly connect vehicles to each other, to roads and infrastructure, and to personal mobile devices, enabling these elements to exchange information about vehicles’ position, speed, brake status, and more. With this information, connected vehicles can provide timely, situation-appropriate warnings and recommendations to drivers. The site is centered around answering questions regarding how the technology works, what it makes possible, and how it will be used.

Identifying the User

The site introduces users to connected vehicle technology by asking, “What type of connected vehicle user are you?” Clicking on any of six images brings up examples of transportation users and how connected technology will benefit each one. For example, selecting the picture of a bicyclist brings up the description, “I walk or bike to most places.” This type of transportation user benefits from drivers’ 365-degree awareness of vehicles and situations they may not even be able to see, through in-car warnings of the presence of pedestrians and bicyclists. Pedestrians can also receive alerts from their own mobile devices.

Other user options include motorists, transit users, first responders, commercial truck drivers, and those with environmental concerns. When selected, each option describes how connected vehicles work, what they offer, and how they will improve transportation for the user.

Telling the Story

The developers of the site designed it for ease of use and exploration, providing four links from the main page about connected vehicles: What are they? How do they work? How will they be used? What are their benefits? Each link directs site visitors to a detailed summary of the topic, along with supporting statistics and links to related resources for more information. In addition, the site offers videos and presentations illustrating connected vehicle technology in action and descriptive diagrams of the inside of a connected vehicle.

A page titled “20 Questions about Connected Vehicles” covers a broad spectrum of information, from privacy protections, how users may need to adapt, and the cost of the technology, to deployment challenges, the involvement of car manufacturers, and USDOT’s role in development. The site includes “A Connected Vehicle Story,” a fictional example of a transportation user named Lauren and all the ways connected technology helps her arrive on time for a meeting, including interaction with public transit, pedestrians, and first responders.

Other areas of the site provide details on the next steps for the Federal Government in deploying connected vehicles, as well as a big-picture view of what is going on with the technology internationally. Links for resources and news provide additional videos, Web sites, publications, and press releases with further information. The “Get Involved” page lists upcoming meetings, webinars, and ITS JPO meeting materials.

Connected vehicles could eliminate 80 percent of crashes where the driver is not impaired. “USDOT [officials] believe these technologies will become the backbone of a new, smarter transportation infrastructure,” says Mike Pina, a program manager with ITS JPO. “The Web site will serve as a valuable resource for anyone who wants to understand the fundamental concepts of connected vehicle technology and its ability to increase safety, make commutes easier, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Screen capture of the main page of the Connected Vehicles Basics Web site.

For more information, visit www.its.dot.gov/cv_basics/index.htm or contact Mike Pina at mike.pina@dot.gov or 202–366–3700.

Carrie Boris is a contributing editor for Public Roads.



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