NC Transportation Center of Excellence on Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Technology (NC-CAV)

Thrust 2: CAV Infrastructure

Lead: T. Chase (ITRE)

Other Investigators: NCSU: S. Lin; NCAT: J. Kelly, A. Eroglu

Thrust 2 researchers analyze the readiness of the existing transportation infrastructure and maintenance programs to support CAV deployment and investigate the emerging infrastructure required for the adoption of future CAV technologies. Thrust 2 develops and tests a 5G architecture for secure V2I applications for communication between CAVs and the transportation infrastructure. The results of this research thrust will complement the NC Moves effort and inform NCDOT of impacts on current infrastructure programs. It will also provide NCDOT with the opportunity to conduct tests at the developed/developing facility, such as the NCDOT SPaT Challenge Corridor. The result of this project will also help Downtown Greensboro as one of the other public stakeholders in this project to plan and prepare for the infrastructure that is required for the establishment of a route for connected autonomous shuttle service by connecting NCAT campus to downtown Greensboro. The findings from this implementation effort are directly related to NCDOT expansion in this area for multimodal adoption of CAVs in the near future.

North Carolina is preparing for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) through multiple initiatives including an NCDOT-sponsored report “NC Readiness for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAV)” and the Highly Automated Vehicle Committee appointed by the State Legislature. In providing a roadmap for safe deployment of CAVs on North Carolina roads, these initiatives highlight the need to consider modifications to roadway infrastructures. CAVs’ infrastructure needs can be broadly categorized either as improvements to existing traditional infrastructure or as emerging infrastructure needs. New infrastructure, including communications hardware to support Connected Vehicle (CV) applications, has been a recent focus of USDOT with three national pilot locations in Tampa, New York City, and statewide in Wyoming. In addition, NCDOT has joined the Signal Phase and Timing (SPaT) Challenge with a CV deployment on NC-55 in Cary. To date, the pilot projects focus on Dedicated Short-range Communication standards for broadcasting informational messages rather than applications that require heavy processing.

In addition to the pilot testing of new infrastructure, recent studies have shown the automated driving systems also rely heavily on traditional infrastructure. CAVs include a suite of detection methods including video, LIDAR, ultrasonic, and radar systems for autonomous vehicles to safely navigate on-road. These systems need high-quality pavement markings, consistent geometric features, and clearly visible signs and traffic signals. NCHRP Projects 20-102(06) on Pavement Markings, 20-102(15) on Level 2 and 3 Automation Needs, and planned projects 20-102(21) and 20-102(24) on Mid-term Infrastructure Needs each highlight necessary changes to existing facilities and assets that NCDOT constructs and maintains. These projects are expected to bring recommended changes to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices as well to ensure uniformity of CAV infrastructure across the country.

This project assesses current NCDOT Programs that may be impacted by the changes to the traditional infrastructure that would be needed to safely deploy CAVs statewide, 2) expands on a low-latency edge computing architecture that can support CAV applications needing extensive computation or timely response, and 3) provides recommendations to NCDOT units and programs to increase statewide readiness for CAVs in both traditional and emerging infrastructure. The research team leverages their existing relationships with NCDOT as well as National Instruments and the Wireless Research Center to develop actionable recommendations. Project deliverables include presentations for concerned units and division engineers as well as recorded webinars and reports documenting the team’s findings and recommendations.

Thrust 2 Goals and Objectives

The goal of this research project is to investigate both changes to existing infrastructure needs to support CAVs and emerging technologies that support CAV deployment. There are three primary objectives of the project:

1. Document NCDOT infrastructure programs impacted by CAV applications.

2. Develop and test a 5G architecture for secure V2I applications.

3. Recommend program enhancements to advance NC-CAV infrastructure readiness.

Anticipated Research Products of Thrust 2

The anticipated research products include:

1. A report on the analysis of existing transportation infrastructure and recommendations for its associated maintenance programs for supporting the CAV deployment in the future;

2. A recommendation report for the establishment of a low-latency edge computing infrastructure for North Carolina, and

3. A recommendation report for the enhancement of the readiness of NC infrastructure for CAV deployment.