by Dr. W.H. “Bill” Sowell, MBA, PhD, President, Eberle Design, Inc.
Sowell is a Member of the NEMA Board of Governors, Vice Chair of the
NEMA 3TS Transportation Management Systems and Associated Control
Devices Section, and Chair of the NEMA Performance Measures Technical
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration, more than 35,000 people die from traffic-related
collisions each year in the U.S. Globally, that number is more than 1.35
million. If these traffic-related deaths received the daily attention
of the public and the media, it would be equivalent to hearing on the
news about a large airliner crashing each day.
Enter the prospect
of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV). By taking the human element
out of driving and ground transportation, would it be possible to end
up with zero traffic-related fatalities?
CAV is not a new concept. It was pictured in a 1957 Life Magazine advertisement
by Central Power and Light Company. The concept of an electrically
powered and self-driven auto was a dream of the future then, and such
technology was elusive. However, CAV is here today, and it is
immediately deployable in terms of technology. Sadly, widespread CAV
deployment lacks funding.
What new business models can be
developed that will pay for surface transportation infrastructure like
upgrading traffic signal cabinets and CAV radio transceivers?
the increasing use of electrically powered vehicles, federal and state
gasoline tax revenue is declining. There are not enough charging
stations for the coming demand for electrically powered vehicles. How
can we fund CAV and electric vehicle deployment quickly and efficiently?
there are approximately 400,000 signalized intersections in the U.S.
Fewer than 250 of the initial test deployments of those signalized
intersections are equipped to receive the signals generated by CAVs with
either connected vehicle to infrastructure (C-V2I) or dedicated
short-range communications (DSRC). Recently, U.S. Federal Communications
Chairman Ajit Pai mandated that 5G/C-V2I communications would be used
in the U.S. for CAV communications.
How do we pay to upgrade every
signalized U.S. intersection to receive CAVs that generate a basic
safety message (BSM) and vulnerable road user (VRU) message set? While
public/private partnerships (3P) have proven to be successful outside of
the U.S., using a concessionaire design- build-finance-operate model,
the U.S. has yet to develop an acceptable business model for signalized
intersections using a 3P.
The issue of long-term roadway
infrastructure development continues to be bogged down in the
traditional political and lobby-rich conference rooms of Capitol Hill.
Our elected and appointed officials lack a sense of urgency when it
comes to the rapid deployment of proven CAV technologies and the
allocation of several billion dollars to upgrade new intersections to be
Want to save lives? Contact your elected officials and
ask them to support the rapid deployment of CAV technology. The life
saved may be your own.
The NEMA 3TS Section has been hard at work
generating a NEMA TS 10 connected vehicle Standard, which facilitates
the requirements for vehicles and signalized intersections to optimally
communicate, enhancing motorist and pedestrian safety. We will continue
to see CAV testbeds; however, at the present rate of deployment, it will
be 2035 to 2040 until we see widespread CAV deployments in the largest
U.S. cities. The entry of mobility as a service and signals as a service
could lead to promising new business models that we may soon see as
more CAV-ready intersections are deployed. ei