Roadway Infrastructure (RI)

Ever since cars displaced horses, stop signs, signal lights, lane markings, guard rails, plus a host of other roadway infrastructure (RI) means have become indispensable. History’s repeating itself; as autonomous software displaces human judgment, a second wave of RI upgrading is being heralded in. The autonomous challenge is to drive hundreds of millions of miles without a single fatality. That will require all-weather lane determination plus replete ground and roadways systems’ assistance. The benefits to life and its quality plus the economy are compelling us to act.

Safer roadways require complementary communication on the part of both autonomous and connected vehicles as well as the roadside itself and systems coordination at the level of roadway and jurisdictions at all levels. Cars are already mandated (since 1994) to have On-Board Diagnostic (OBD) computers. The fluidity of improvements in mobile communications is currently presenting a challenge in the RI policy space.

Quoting Forbes 4/22 issue, “The auto industry stands at a crossroads: adopt a new wireless standard for collision avoidance and other types of vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications called-V2X (cellular vehicle-to-everything) or continue to fight against the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) 2020 order mandating the phaseout of the old standard after 20 years of market refusal to adopt the proposal.”

Vehicle to whatever (V2X), so far, now includes: Vehicle to Network (V2N), Vehicle to Infrastructure (V2I), Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V), Vehicle to Cloud (V2C), Vehicle to Pedestrian (V2P), Vehicle to Device (V2D), and Vehicle to Grid (V2G). The current and potential use cases enabled by the foregoing “V2” menu to include:

  • Preventing close proximity, especially rear-end, connected vehicle-to-vehicle collisions,
  • Enabling predictive vehicle maintenance and updates performed by means of the cloud,
  • Controlling remotely vehicle’s video, alarms, access/occupancy, air conditioning, lighting, …,
  • Speeding traffic flow by synchronizing traffic lights to conditions and lane access,
  • Delivering emergency services by fastest routes and invoking cooperation of all CVs,
  • Removing line-of-sight as necessary to avoid collisions since CVs have alternative options.

Real-time information sharing between parties will involve policies to insure cooperation and privacy. Furthermore, the respective roles, regulation, and liabilities of vehicle operation need policy clarification.

Next Step

This Transportation practice is headed by Jim Cook, Senior Partner, who began his career as a Research Engineer at MIT and went on to advise senior executives at Bell Laboratories, DuPont, and Motorola on the management of technology. (Bios at: JIM COOK)