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Driverless cars to be tested in E-ZPass Express Lanes

Automation is coming to Northern Virginia’s E-ZPass Express Lanes.

Driverless cars, or CAV’s (connected and autonomous vehicles) will soon be tested on the E-ZPass Express Lanes on Interstates 95 and 495 “during non-rush periods at times when the Lanes are closed or traffic is not heavy.”

More in a press release from Transurban, the operator of the E-ZPass Express Lanes:

Authorization to begin testing connected vehicles and vehicle automation technologies on the 495 and 95 Express Lanes was approved earlier this week by the Commonwealth Transportation Board. The Commissioner of Highways agreed to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration and Transurban, the operator of the 495 and 95 Express Lanes, to study how connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) may improve safety and mobility. The program will enable the partnership to perform research, and develop and trial demonstration tests on the Express Lanes to examine real-world applications for the developing technologies. Program development is scheduled to begin later this month with on-road tests beginning as soon as summer 2018.

“This is a new era for the Virginia Department of Transportation,” said Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne. “We must do all we can to embrace the roadway needs of rapidly evolving automotive technology. This partnership will help answer critical questions as transportation agencies consider approaches to handling the current technology alterations and disruptions occurring with the transition to CAV.”

The program partners will test electronics, information processing, and communications technology to better understand the practical application of connected and autonomous vehicles in a real-world environment, with the ultimate goal to increase efficiency across road networks. The research will test:

· cooperative adaptive cruise control, that allows automated vehicles to safely follow each other in closer proximity;
· technology to seamlessly enable automated lane changing and merging into traffic; and
· speed harmonization, including direct vehicle interaction

The Express Lanes provide an ideal testing ground for CAVs because the roadway and lane markings are well maintained, there is minimal debris on the pavement and full camera coverage is available at the dedicated Express Lanes operations center.

 

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