Virginia Tech Transportation Institute Tests Automated Vehicle Technology on DC Interstate

Researchers from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute recently took to Interstate 395 in Washington D.C. to test the latest automated and connected vehicle technology.

The closed testing happened during the regular midday reversal of the Interstate’s express lanes and didn’t affect traffic, according to a news release. The automated vehicle demonstrated a variety of capabilities, including lane-changing and braking responses to staged scenarios such as traffic slowdowns and passing emergency vehicles.

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, U.S. Department of Transportation Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology Greg Winfree, Virginia Tech President Timothy D. Sands, and Virginia Secretary of Technology Karen Jackson were among officials on hand for the demonstration, according to the release. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, the Virginia Department of Transportation, and Transurban, which operates the express lanes, conducted the demonstration.

The demonstration was part of the Virginia Connected Corridors and the Virginia Automated Corridors initiatives, which represent partnerships between the Virginia Department of Transportation and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, Transurban, and HERE, a high-definition mapping business.

During this demonstration, the connected vehicle was equipped with dedicated short-range communications, or DSRC, and cellular technology, according to the release. It provided advanced alerts to drivers facing similar scenarios who were using vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications.

Global automotive supplier Continental demonstrated several of its advanced safety systems during the test, according to the release.

“Next-generation vehicular technology certainly has the potential to play a vast role within the transportation community — from increasing overall safety to reducing congestion and negative environmental impacts,” Virginia Tech Transportation Institute Director Tom Dingus said, according to the release. “With the Virginia Connected and Automated Corridors initiatives, we are actively working to support both the Commonwealth and the nation in efforts to be a front-runner in this initiative, increasing job opportunities, providing information to policymakers at all levels, and facilitating the work of automobile manufacturers and suppliers.”