May/June 2021 | Vol. 26 No. 3
by Raj Ponnaluri, PhD, P.E., PTOE, PMP, State Connected Vehicles, Arterials, and Managed Lanes Engineer, Florida Department of Transportation
Connected and automated vehicle (CAV) technologies can save lives and provide enhanced mobility services to motorists, vulnerable road users, first responder agencies, and all road users. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has made significant progress implementing CAV technologies in Florida to improve safety and enhance mobility since the beginning of an initiative in 2016.
The FDOT CAV program has adopted the Department’s mission to provide a safe transportation system that ensures the mobility of people and goods and the vision of providing a transportation network that is congestion and fatality free. The CAV program also supports the Department’s Vital Few initiatives of improving safety, enhancing mobility, inspiring innovation, and fostering talent.
FDOT has developed the CAV Business Plan (BP)1 and identified the action items to transition from “Early Implementation Phase” (2019-2020) to “Full-Scale Implementation and Operations Phase” (2020 and beyond).
The BP includes seven priority focus areas:
- Policies and Governance
- Program Funding
- Education and Outreach
- Industry Outreach and Partnerships
- Technical Standards and Specifications Development
- Implementation Readiness
- Deployment and Implementation
CAV Projects Undertaken by FDOT
FDOT has 29 CAV projects in different phases, including planning, design, or operations.2 The focus of the projects ranges from the deployment of CAV devices to CAV data management and security systems.
FDOT has implemented Signal Phase and Timing (SPaT) projects in Tallahassee, Gainesville, Pinellas, and Osceola County. The long-term strategy of FDOT is to get all traffic signals on the state highway system CAV-ready.
FDOT is also implementing three of Florida’s Regional Advanced Mobility Elements (FRAME) projects along I-75, I-4, and US 41 routes that are focused on integrated corridor management (ICM). FRAME projects include the deployment of roadside units (RSUs), broadcasting SPaT information, ICM systems, transit signal priority, freight, and pedestrian/bicyclist safety applications.
FDOT is exploring ways to leverage smart work zone (SWZ) technologies to improve safety and enhance mobility. FDOT is in the process of developing an SWZ Action Plan for mainstreaming technology deployment at the work zones for enhanced monitoring and operation.
FDOT recognizes that CAV technology will generate a tremendous amount of data, which, if properly used, will allow for quantum leaps in the way transportation systems are managed.
FDOT has conceptualized and is going to acquire a statewide vehicle-to-everything (V2X) data program. The V2X Data Exchange Platform (DEP) is intended to encompass FDOT operational, in development, and planned CAV project corridors. The system includes taking CAV data to make real-time and predictive decisions and assist interested parties in the auto industry, research, traffic engineering, and other areas. The system will enable FDOT to disseminate real-time CAV information to automobile original equipment manufacturers (AOEMs).
Implementing security measures is also vital to ensure the seamless operation of CAV technologies. FDOT is implementing a Security Credential Management System (SCMS) in all CAV projects through a statewide contract. SCMS uses security certificates for signing messages transferred between roadside units and on-board units. SCMS ensures the messages being transferred are not altered and that they originate from and are received by trusted sources. FDOT is also exploring what additional security aspects a CAV project may include and what proactive measures may be needed in the future.
Interagency and Industry Coordination/Collaboration
FDOT is partnering with local agencies to deploy safety- and mobility-focused CAV technologies. The Technology Applications Partnerships for Local Agencies (TAPs-LA) program has been created under FDOT leadership to foster the adoption of CAV technologies.
Under the cutting-edge initiative called Implementing Solutions from Transportation Research and Evaluation of Emerging Technologies (I-STREET), FDOT has been inviting transportation industry leaders to participate and innovate transportation technologies for a variety of use cases.
Testing and Development
Florida is home to SunTrax, a large-scale facility being developed by FDOT and Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise, dedicated to the research, development, and testing of emerging technologies in safe and controlled environments. SunTrax facilitates testing of a wide range of applications, including freeway, arterial, and urban scenarios.
FDOT collaborates with universities and research institutes to document CAV project assessments and outcomes. FDOT is keen to document the lessons learned to identify the best practices and updates procedures regularly. FDOT is collaborating on the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Cooperative Automation Research Mobility Applications (CARMA) research initiative to leverage its CAV deployments. Automated, Connected, Electric, and Shared (ACES) is also making significant momentum in FDOT with research and development, policy design, and coordination with interested parties.
Technical Specifications for CAV Deployments
Developing and updating current technical Standards and specifications is one of the focus areas of the FDOT CAV BP. FDOT has developed project- specific technical special provisions and modified special provisions at the early stage of CAV deployments. FDOT has developed a developmental specification3 in compliance with other national Standards and specifications by the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT), National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), SAE International, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), etc. FDOT is committed to working with local and national agencies to keep its infrastructure updated and interoperable to ensure safety and enhance mobility for the people of Florida. ei
In addition to leading Florida’s connected vehicles, arterial management, and managed lanes programs, Mr. Ponnaluri assists with the development of the Transportation Systems Management & Operations.
1 Florida’s Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAV) Business Plan (January 2019)
2 Florida’s Connected and Automated Vehicle (CAV) Initiative (Last visited on 2/25/2021)
3 FDOT Developmental Specification Section 681 - https://bit.ly/3mShTkx