The University of Wyoming (UW) is working on a pilot project that is intended to reduce the number of weather-related incidents involving trucks on I-80, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Wave 1 Connected Vehicle Pilot Deployment Program.
Up to 16,000 vehicles per day travel along the 402-mile corridor in Wyoming, which is the state’s critical economic transportation route, and sections are often subject to bad weather and numerous closures during the region’s long, harsh winters. Focusing on the needs of truckers, the pilot project will develop applications that use vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) connectivity to support a flexible range of services, including weather advisories, roadside alerts, parking notifications and travel information.
Information will be made available directly to the equipped fleets from the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT), or through data connections to fleet management centers of the various freight carriers. The various management centers, through their own systems, then communicate weather and road condition information to their trucks.
In the past four years, according to U.S. DOT statistics, high-winds on I-80 have resulted in some 200 reported truck blow-overs; 86 road closures, averaging roughly eight hours each, during the past five years; and approximately $11.7 million in economic losses due to each closure. These incidents occur due to blowing and drifting snow, high winds, fires and visibility issues. From 2009-2014, there were 94 fatalities, 19 of which were the result of weather-related conditions.
“An important role of UW is to utilize our driving truck simulator lab to provide training to truck drivers on the new system, and to aid in designing the best CV (connected vehicle) human/machine interfaces,” explained Mohamed Ahmed, an assistant professor in the UW’s Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering. “The open source software designs roadways and surroundings, which can be urban or rural settings. It provides different roadway configurations, with features that include traction on pavement that is slippery, slushy or icy. We can include ambient traffic, change the intensity of snow and wind, and have the wind blow in different directions. The software can even set conditions to fully loaded or empty trucks, as well as a certain time of day to replicate when the sun rises and sets. This gives truck drivers an opportunity to see what they can do in the lab. If there is reduced visibility, they better drive at slower speed limits suggested by the new connected vehicle technology. We’ll use the truck simulator to provide training for truck drivers, and to help design the best interface for these applications.”