Cooperative Automated Transportation (CAT)

Cooperative Automated Transportation

Roadway safety in a cooperative automated world

Highway automation is not years away, or even days away. It’s here now, causing a number of state transportation agencies to react with initiatives related to preparing and supporting Connected Automated Vehicles (CAVs) on U.S. roadways.

Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAVs)

Cooperative Automated Transportation (CAT) deals with CAVs, which are vehicles capable of driving on their own with limited or no human involvement in navigation and control. Per the definition adopted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are six levels of automation (Levels 0-2: driver assistance and Levels 3-5: HAV), each of which requires its own specification and marketplace considerations.

Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) and Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAVs)

For traffic safety, vehicle-to-everything communications is the wireless exchange of critical safety and operational data between vehicles and anything else. The "X" could be roadway infrastructure, other vehicles, roadway workers or other safety and communication devices. ATSSA members are at the forefront of these technologies, and are working with stakeholders across new industries to see these innovations come to life.

Sensor Technology

CAVs rely on three main groups of sensors: camera, radar, and Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR). The camera sensors capture moving objects and the outlines of roadway devices to get speed and distance data. Short- and long-range radar sensors work to detect traffic from the front and the back of CAVs. LIDAR systems produce three-dimensional images of both moving and stationary objects.

For more information about ATSSA’s efforts on CAT and CAV’s and their interaction with our member products check out the resources below.



NCUTCD summer meeting provides traffic signals, VRU, MUTCD updates

By Jim Rhine, ATSSA Innovation & Technical Services Manager

The National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (NCUTCD) summer meeting addressed a variety of topics including traffic signals and vulnerable road users and provided an indication that work is progressing on the updated Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).

In May, ATSSA President & CEO Stacy Tetschner sent a letter to Federal Highway Administration Administrator Shailen P. Bhatt urging the FHWA to publish the updated MUTCD by the May 15 deadline set forth in the U.S. Code. Tetschner acknowledged the "tremendous amount of work” needed to update the MUTCD but said he wanted to “stress how vital it is that this statutory deadline is met.”

Toward the end of the summer meeting of the NCUTCD, also referred to as “the National Committee,” federal officials made reference to August, suggesting work on the final rule is moving forward. However, there was no commitment that it would be published that month.

Another rulemaking effort was also discussed, the Public Right-of-Way Accessibility Guidelines (PROWAG) rulemaking, which will impact the MUTCD. FHWA staff said that rulemaking is making progress toward a final rule. However, FHWA is not responsible for it. The U.S. Access Board, which is an independent federal agency that promotes accessible design, is tasked with that duty. After the final rule is issued, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and the U.S. Department of Justice must conduct rulemaking procedures to adopt PROWAG into federal regulations. After that step, FHWA will conduct another rulemaking to address revisions needed in the MUTCD to adopt relevant aspects of PROWAG.

Timing for those steps was not released by federal officials during the meeting, held in June in Tacoma, Wash.

Three discussions regarding traffic signals and pedestrian and vulnerable road user (VRU) enhancements seemed particularly relevant for ATSSA members.

Significant attention was given to simplifying the guidance documentation for improving safety for pedestrians and VRUs. In 2021 the U.S. reported the most pedestrian deaths in a single year in four decades, a 12% increase from the previous year. Street design and physical infrastructure solutions were highlighted as key components for addressing this trend. Also, digital infrastructure solutions notably enhance those efforts as an operating system for the future of mobility on physical assets.

A discussion of traffic signal operations and timing considerations focused on suggested edits to the MUTCD for Leading Pedestrian Intervals (LPIs). Participants recognized the benefits of LPIs in improving pedestrian safety and proposed updates to provide clearer guidance on their use and implementation.  This included recommendations for appropriate durations and signal phasing to prioritize pedestrian movements at signalized intersections. 

A meeting on Adaptive Signal Control Systems (ASCS) explored the potential of ASCS to optimize traffic flow and enhance pedestrian and VRU safety. Suggested edits to the MUTCD included guidance on integrating and utilizing ASCS, emphasizing the importance of real-time data, adaptive signal timing and coordination strategies to accommodate changing traffic conditions and prioritize pedestrian and VRU movements. 

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