Blazing Ahead with Connected Vehicles

The MASITE/ITSPA Annual Conference in State College, PA, showcased connected vehicle technology with a truck safety demonstration.  Dr. Eric Donnell, the Director of the Larson Transportation Institute, and Dr. Sean Brennan, Associate Professor of the Mechanical Engineering Department at Penn State, led the afternoon events. The demonstration featured a Volvo truck cab’s autonomous response to an incident scene while approaching in cruise control. 

The ambulance at the test scene site emitted a radio signal indicating its presence on the roadway.  The signal was received by the truck and the truck came out of cruise control.  Engine brakes were autonomously applied at a calculated distance according to the truck’s speed.  This application of the brakes automatically slowed the truck down to a safe speed which allowed the driver to steer around the scene or come to a complete stop. 

Time is not Negotiable

Trans Associates is currently at the forefront of test track design for autonomous vehicles working with Uber Advanced Technologies Center (UATC) at several locations in and around Pittsburgh. The relationship with UATC has given Trans Associates an opportunity to set aside convention and apply engineering principles in a highly collaborative and schedule driven environment. 

UATC required a design that would accommodate current and future autonomous vehicle testing conditions.    Flexibility was designed in from the start to accommodate ever evolving test variables at the site.  Trans Associates’ open layout accommodates unconventional intersections, roadway twists and turns, grading changes and pedestrian amenities.  The signal systems were also designed to be changeable in order to mimic various signal conditions found in the U.S. and internationally.  

There are a number of considerations involved with test track design and there are many variables.  One variable is not time.  The project schedules are fierce and aggressive in the autonomous vehicle race and Trans Associates is nimble in its response.  


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