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

Thrust 3: CAV Applications

With advances in control, sensing and perception, high performance computers, cloud computing, and communication technologies, it is becoming possible to have heterogeneous transportation systems incorporating autonomous ground and air vehicles that communicate with each other and also with smart infrastructure to effectively provide transportation services distributed in time and space. Connected Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) have the capability to communicate with devices both within and outside of the vehicle (including other vehicles and road or network infrastructure) to share and process data in order to improve the safety and performance of individual vehicles and of the overall transportation system. Higher autonomy levels of CAVs along with their connectivity allow for a cooperative control strategy that provides a more flexible and efficient transportation system to serve as an on-demand-mobility solution. Further, cooperative control of CAVs offers a promising solution that increases traffic efficiency and enhances traffic navigation through congested urban environments such as road intersections or unforeseen situations that may arise during travel/transportation. This project develops and experimentally validates cooperative control techniques for CAVs and UAVs which build on NCDOT’s experience in the field.

Thrust 3 researchers develop and experimentally validate cooperative control techniques for CAVs and UAVs. In particular, Thrust 3 researchers develop cooperative control techniques for On-Demand mobility applications, prototype a testbed of a network of CAVs to implement emergent applications of CAVs, and explore the application of UAVs for transportation systems such as aerial traffic monitoring and accident or emergency management. Thrust 3 investigates the on-demand mobility solutions for deploying CAVs and UAVs and conduct a feasibility study for using CAVs in Greensboro’s downtown as a use case. Further, Thrust 3 develops a testbed of CAVs and UAVs that potentially can be used for testing the applications of interest to NCDOT, such as providing CAV-based transportation to densely populated areas (such as downtown areas) in North Carolina cities or for aerial traffic monitoring purposes.

Thrust 3 Goals and Objectives

The goal of this project is to develop and implement cooperative control techniques for CAVs and UAVs and to explore their emerging applications by achieving the following objectives:

1. Developing cooperative control of heterogeneous CAVs and UAVs for on-demand mobility applications

NC-CAV develops cooperative control algorithms for coordinating CAVs (both ground and air autonomous vehicles) to provide transportation services distributed in time and space that meet clients’ and stakeholders’ needs. Also, NC-CAV uses optimal routing and scheduling to accommodate requested services to reduce delay time while minimizing resource utilization by effectively locating and tasking the CAVs available in the network.

2. Prototyping a testbed of a network of CAVs

NC-CAV develops a testbed composed of multiple autonomous vehicles and equips them with the required accessories for autonomous driving and for communication with each other and with the infrastructure to form a heterogeneous network of CAVs to implement advanced cooperative control of CAVs.

3. Aerial monitoring using CAVs

NC-CAV explores an aerial monitoring using tethered UAVs to assist in incident and emergency management activities. This possible application of UAVs has strong potential to reduce the impact of incidents on vehicle mobility--especially more severe collisions--to manage the traffic incidents more effectively by providing the data to first responders and law enforcement officers, enabling faster road clearance.

Anticipated Research Products of Thrust 3

Deliverables for this project include:

1. A design methodology for the use of on-demand mobility solutions for the urban transportation system.

2. A feasibility study report for implementing an on-demand-mobility solution for a use case (connecting NCAT campus to downtown Greensboro).

3. A networked CAV testbed capable of implementing advanced CAV transportation concepts and applications.

4. A report on field test results for the deployment of the developed CAV testbed for potential use cases.