Harrisburg, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) have formed the Smart Belt Coalition – a first-of-its-kind collaboration – with transportation agencies in Ohio and Michigan that will focus on automated and connected vehicle initiatives. The coalition, which includes transportation and academic partners, brings together leaders on these technologies to support research, testing, policy, funding pursuits and deployment, as well as share data and provide unique opportunities for private-sector testers.
“I’m excited for us to continue our efforts in fostering safe and effective development of this technology,” PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards said. “This multi-state partnership not only offers fantastic collaboration opportunities, but will also bring some consistency to testing scenarios that will help the private sector as they develop these technologies.”
While coalition membership may expand in the future, participating agencies and universities include:
- Pennsylvania: PennDOT, PTC and Carnegie Mellon University;
- Michigan: Michigan Department of Transportation and University of Michigan; and
- Ohio: Ohio Department of Transportation, Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission, The Ohio State University and Transportation Research Center.
“This new coalition recognizes that automated and connected vehicle initiatives transcend state boundaries and spur emerging technologies,” PTC CEO Mark Compton said. “Working together, we will be able to more effectively advance these emerging technologies for all motorists.”
With similar climates, commercial truck traffic and active work on these technologies in the participating states, the coalition will be a resource for transportation stakeholders and the private sector alike. The coalition is developing its strategic plan which initially focuses on:
- connected and automated applications in work zones, including uniform work-zone scenarios offering consistency for testers as well as technologies offering better information to motorists;
- commercial freight opportunities in testing, including platooning (connecting more than one vehicle) and potential coordination on interstates; and
- incident management applications providing better information to and infrastructure for emergency responders and other agencies.
“We look forward to this real-world test bed to further our research in the safe deployment of connected and automated technology and its associated policies,” said Carnegie Mellon Professor Raj Rajkumar.
Moving forward, the coalition will finalize a strategic plan outlining the framework for participants and opportunities for private-sector testers.
The coalition is the latest example of Pennsylvania’s commitment to safe and innovative development of these technologies and complements the Autonomous Vehicle Policy Task Force, which is chaired by PennDOT.
Learn more about the task force, which includes government, academic and private-sector members, at www.penndot.gov under “Projects & Programs” and then “Research and Testing.”