Faster movement of freight.
A better economy.
And lives saved on the road.
Those are just some of the benefits of Connected and Automated Vehicle (CAV) technology outlined by Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) Secretary Greg Slater at a meeting last month.
“It’s life-changing technology that will help impact our health, our economic competitiveness, and our access to resources,” he told members of the CAV Working Group. “Truly, every facet of our quality of life is going to benefit from this technology … We have to continue to push the boundaries of this technology toward a common goal of safe, affordable, equitable, and efficient transportation for all Marylanders.”
One way to do that, he said, is to stop marketing CAV as an umbrella term and instead focus on how connectivity and automation can help transit, freight, and vulnerable road users.
Secretary Slater said the technology could be used to:
- Help future electric buses move around the bus yard or get charged efficiently;
- Have automated vehicles perform dangerous jobs, like those with attenuator trucks; and
- Provide enhanced safety for all drivers, and move more goods with greater efficiency.
The goals for 2022 include expanding education about CAV, as well as taking a deeper dive into how transportation infrastructure can potentially integrate with this technology.
The CAV Working Group, co-chaired by MDOT Motor Vehicle Administrator Chrissy Nizer and Maryland Transportation Authority Executive Director Jim Ports, was founded six years ago. There are now more than 450 members.
“The nice thing about this working group is that from the top, from the leadership, it really has been a multi-agency effort,’’ said Administrator Nizer, who is also Governor Larry Hogan’s Highway Safety Representative.
“The working group is an invaluable resource as we explore the applications and opportunities that CAV will present for our entire transportation network,” said Executive Director Ports. “As this technology evolves and becomes part of our everyday lives, it’s critical to consider perspectives from government, the industry, the public, and other sources. Our CAV Working Group is an important voice in that comprehensive, collaborative approach.”
The meeting served as the one-year anniversary of establishing a Strategic Framework for CAV in Maryland, which serves as a call to action for agencies, organizations, and academia to plan how to implement the technology.
Key accomplishments with CAV over the past year, Administrator Nizer said, include:
- Coordinating with the Maryland Departments of Planning and Commerce, as well as local jurisdictions, to get the word out about CAV;
- Working with nine companies who submitted expressions of interest (EOI) in CAV technology, testing, research, and implementation. A total of 38 companies have filed EOIs since 2017.
- Monitoring high school, university, and U.S. Army CAV projects; and
- Investigating the inclusion of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) information in the Maryland Driver’s Manual, which would make Maryland the first state to do so.
- “We know lives can be saved in Maryland with advanced driver assistance technology,’’ Secretary Slater said.
The technology is already on some late-model vehicles and some trucks, he said. National studies suggest that if ADAS was on all vehicles, nearly 40% of crashes a year could be eliminated or their impact substantially reduced, he said.
“Studies also indicate that 29% of all fatalities could be prevented with full implementation of ADAS technology. That should be driving us. That should be driving us every day. If we follow that formula, that means more than 145 lives could be saved every single year on Maryland’s roadways,” Secretary Slater told the working group.
That’s why it’s critical that the transportation industry continues to push forward with this technology – and “push forward with testing, push forward with piloting, push forward with implementation,” he said. “It’s going to be foundational for next generation’s transportation system.”
For more information on the CAV Working Group, go to: mdot.maryland.gov/MarylandCAV or email CAVMaryland@mdot.maryland.gov.