Transformational Transportation Technologies.


Autonomous vehicle technology is not just in the works, an industry expert projects some aspects of this technology will be in passenger vehicles by 2023 as the result of a proposed federal rule.

Ben Pierce, the Autonomous Vehicle/Connected Vehicle Program Manager for HDR, Inc., said under a proposed rule of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), automakers must include the technology in all light-duty vehicles by 2023.  The rule pertains to vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology which creates what is known in the industry as connected vehicles.  The technology allows these vehicles to communicate with each other through a special wireless protocol.  The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) said the vehicle-to-vehicle technology has the potential to improve safety on the nation’s roadways by preventing hundreds of thousands of crashes every year.

Pierce and the City of Columbus, Ohio are part of a project that is changing the way cities and planners view transportation and its role in American society.  Columbus, Ohio won the U.S. DOT Smart City Challenge beating 77 other applicants and secured a $40 million grant from the U.S. DOT along with a $10 million grant from Vulcan, Inc.  It will use the program to focus on reducing infant mortality in one of the City’s poorest neighborhoods.  Under the Smart City Challenge, Pierce said Columbus started looking at “transportation as a means to solve societal issues, not the problem to solve.” He pointed to extensive partnerships between the public and private sectors and community collaboration as two key elements behind the City’s successful application.  The project in several ways mirrors elements and goals of the Heartland 2050 regional visioning project.

Pierce made his presentation to MAPA staff and members and project partners as part of an event sponsored jointly by MAPA and Heartland 2050 on February 2nd.