The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provides leadership in the safe development, testing, and deployment of automated vehicle (AV) technology, including connected and automated vehicle (CAV) research and cooperative driving automation (CDA).
This web page is a portal for FHWA’s AV programs, initiatives, activities, and resources. The Related Links section connects you with AV activities in the transportation community.
FHWA Highway Automation Activities
Study of Impacts on Roads from Automated Driving Systems (ADS)
Section 11504 of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) calls for the Secretary of Transportation to “initiate a study on the existing and future impacts of self-driving vehicles to transportation infrastructure, mobility, the environment, and safety.” The study will discuss how ADS impacts the existing transportation infrastructure (e.g., signage/markings, traffic signals, and highway design), congestion, commercial traffic flows, the environment, and mobility. It will also consider potential infrastructure improvements that could support ADS and possible policy recommendations for FHWA in this area.
The FHWA, the Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office (ITS JPO), and the USDOT Volpe National Transportation Systems Center are working in collaboration to develop the study and will be engaging with external stakeholders for input. A public webinar about this study and the topic of ADS impacts will be held on Thursday, May 19, 2022, from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. (EDT). More information about the webinar will be available on the ITS Professional Capacity Building (PCB) Talking Technology and Transportation in Education webinar page.
The FHWA has led communication and outreach activities with highway stakeholders, including State department of transportation (DOT) partners and other public agencies and industry groups, to improve understanding of the issues and needs related to AV.
National Dialogue on Highway Automation is a meeting series initiative that shows how FHWA is engaging stakeholders to inform future research, programs, and policies related to AV.
Policy and Guidance
FHWA is pursuing an update of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), the first major update in a decade. The updated version will reflect advances in traffic control device technology over those years, and will lay the groundwork preparing for supporting automated driving systems and the infrastructure of the future.
Policy and Strategy Analysis is an outline of current efforts to help facilitate incorporating of CAV in transportation planning processes and products.
Transportation Planning Capacity Building – CAV provides a range of resources to help planners better understand CAV technologies and their potential impact on transportation planning.
FHWA is also taking a national leadership role in identifying research areas needed to support the future roadway infrastructure of our Nation. These AV research areas include the safe integration; operational efficiency and reliability; infrastructure readiness; planning; and policy.
CARMASM: A research program designed to develop concepts for CDA. The concepts address common traffic situations, and provide testing and evaluation of resulting applications. This work uses open source software to encourage collaboration and participation of a community of engineers and researchers.
Vehicle Platooning: In June 2018, FHWA tested a cooperative automation system on the Virginia I-95 express lanes in cooperation with the Virginia DOT and TransUrban, the operator of the express lanes. FHWA previously had conducted Human Factors studies and controlled testing of cooperative adaptive cruise control, but the Virginia tests happened in a real-world situation on an open road. The research project represented the next step in assessing the potential of CDA to reduce traffic congestion.
Truck platooning: In collaboration with the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Joint Program Office (JPO) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), FHWA is managing the Truck Platooning Early Deployment Assessment project to understand how truck platoons will operate in a realistic, operational environment. This project will assess various aspects of inservice truck platoons that deliver commercial goods by a fleet operator on their common delivery routes over an extended period. Previous research resulted in the development of truck platooning technology with only limited testing and demonstration in a real-world environment.
Eco-Approach and Departure: FHWA is working with the automotive industry to evaluate concepts to improve traffic flow through intersections. Initial tests indicate that cooperative automation on signalized arterials can reduce and smooth the flow of traffic through intersections while reducing fuel consumption and emissions.
USDOT Automation Activities and Resources
U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT): The USDOT and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy invite public comment on the document, Ensuring American Leadership in Automated Vehicle Technologies: Automated Vehicles 4.0 (AV 4.0). This document builds upon Preparing for the Future of Transportation: Automated Vehicles 3.0 (AV 3.0) [ISBN 978-0-16-094944-9] and expands the scope to 38 relevant U.S. Government (USG) components that have direct or tangential equities in the safe development and integration of AV technologies. AV 4.0 seeks to ensure a consistent USG approach to AV technologies, and to detail the authorities, research, and investments being made across the USG so that the Nation can continue to lead AV technology research, development, and integration.
Work Zone Data Exchange (WZDx): USDOT launched WZDx to jumpstart the voluntary adoption of a basic work zone data specification through collaboration with data producers and data users. The long-term goal is to enable collaborative maintenance and expansion of the work zone specification to meet the emerging needs of AVs. FHWA is collaborating with ITS JPO by coordinating efforts that support stakeholder development of work zone data standards and the initial data systems that will support the tracking, access, and exchange of work zone data. This case study will serve as an example for other AV data needs.