Infrastructure Needs for Autonomous Vehicles

Status: Concept
Timeframe: Near-term
Potential Funding:


Autonomous vehicles, colloquially referred to as self-driving cars, have a large potential to impact transportation networks in the near future. Semi-autonomous vehicles with various degrees of autonomy are already a reality. The industry is still a relatively nascent one, and therefore several large questions still exist. The expected capabilities and limitations of these vehicles are not yet established, nor is a timeline for implementation. The capacities and speed of implementation of autonomous vehicles are also greatly affected by the infrastructure on which they operate.


The objectives of this research are to quantify the expected abilities of autonomous vehicles, to establish an expected timeline of integration within the greater transportation networks, and to examine what infrastructure changes are most beneficial for autonomous vehicles.
The capacities of autonomous vehicles are not yet quantified. The research should:
• Determine what types of roads are suitable for such vehicles.
• Examine safety for both drivers/passengers, and other users of the roadways, such as pedestrians and cyclists.
• Explore limitations, such as fog or extreme conditions.
• Establish a timeline for adoption. Since the technology is expected to change rapidly, current capabilities will change.
The infrastructure requirements for autonomous vehicles are greatly dependent on the capabilities of the vehicles. Nevertheless, certain changes can be expected to improve the safety and usefulness of the vehicles, such as:
• Repainting roadways to help the vehicles operate.
• Installing RFID that could communicate with the vehicles directly.
• Determining what challenges would face a mixed-stream road of autonomous vehicles and vehicles under driver operation.

Research Plan:

Research into this area requires surveying all the major players involved in the development and implementation of autonomous vehicles.
• Survey of industry on current and future plans and timeline to implementation, as well as quantifying the current and future capacities of their vehicles.
• Survey DOTs to determine capabilities and gaps in the existing infrastructure.
• Survey of industry on what changes to the road networks would have the greatest impact of ease of implementation and safety of autonomous vehicles.
After the surveys are completed, a conference with the players would validate the findings of the surveys, and generate a report as well as an executive summary.

Duration: 18 months
Project Budget: $100,000

Topics: Guidance/Lessons Learned
Subjects: General/TAM Practice