The Smart Belt Coalition, which includes both the Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan transportation agencies as well as various academic partners, aims to support research, testing, policy, funding pursuits and deployment, as well as data sharing, for connected and automated vehicle technology, and in so doing, provide unique opportunities for private-sector testers.
The three states involved have similar climates, similar levels of commercial truck traffic and have sesen active work on these technologies already. The Coalition will function as a resource for transportation stakeholders and the private sector alike. While coalition membership may expand in the future, the current participating agencies and universities include:
• Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) and Carnegie Mellon University;
• Michigan: Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and University of Michigan; and
• Ohio: Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission, The Ohio State University and Transportation Research Center.
The Coalition’s strategic plan will initially focus 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 truck platooning by connecting more than one vehicle to a lead vehicle, and potential coordination on interstates; and
• Incident management applications providing better information to, and infrastructure for, emergency responders and other agencies.
Moving forward, a strategic plan will be finalized which outlines the framework for participants and opportunities for private-sector testers.
“I’m excited for us to continue our efforts in fostering safe and effective development of this technology,” said PennDOT secretary Leslie S Richards. “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.”