The National Work Zone Awareness Week, coordinated by U.S. DOT’s Federal Highway Administration, drew our attention to how vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communications can vastly improve road worker safety.
A while back, we supported a Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) research effort by supplying our V2X roadside and onboard units in a work zone safety setting. In this case study, road maintenance workers wore VTTI’s V2X-enabled vests that warned them of cars passing nearby, and at the same time warned drivers of the V2X-equipped vehicles to drive carefully. VTTI, in partnership with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has deployed 11 roadside units in the Virginia Connected Corridor test bed in Northern Virginia and is already planning additional research efforts.
An exciting automation project using Commsignia’s devices at VTTI’s Division for Technology Implementation is related to work zone truck-mounted attenuator (TMA) construction vehicles. These large vehicles have crash cushions on the back to shadow dynamic work zones and protect those who are working on the shoulders. Even so, driving such a truck is a stressful job with a high risk of injury.
New technologies can help improve road worker safety
An automated vehicle is a great way to remove this stress and improve safety. VTTI is developing an autonomous system that allows the TMA truck to follow a lead vehicle on full automation, thus removing the human driver from a dangerous situation. By deploying a remote operator to one of its offices, VTTI plans to use low latency C-V2X and 4G LTE connections to oversee the work zone on a video stream and collect telemetry data from the autonomous vehicle.
The purpose of this system is to stop automatic operation if the operator sees that something is wrong or the autonomous system detects an obstacle which requires an operator to maneuver around. VTTI’s researchers will examine how C-V2X and 4G technologies can complement each other to provide a reliable connection between an autonomous vehicle platform and an operator.
VTTI is also working on another effort called the Smart Work Zone. This use case will extend VTTI’s Smart Vest capabilities to support C-V2X communications through a base station which will be connected to a C-V2X RSU, and it will be processing SAE J2735 BSM and PSM messages in order to alert both the connected vehicle and VRU that could be present on a work zone activity area.
We strongly believe that V2X makes road work zones safer, and VTTI’s work is a good example of this. If you are a highway operator or a transport tech researcher, contact our colleagues on how we can work together.
And, as a reminder to all drivers:
Drive carefully near work zones
Your attention can save lives.