Wyoming DOT Deploys Connected Vehicle Systems for Test in I-80 Corridor
CHEYENNE, WY The Wyoming Department of Transportation said it will install connected vehicle onboard communication devices this winter on 100 of its vehicles - including snow plows and patrol vehicles - along with about 75 roadside units on and around Interstate 80.
"This technology will give us the ability to alert motorists of difficult situations before they encounter them," said WYDOT Director Bill Panos. "We are testing cutting-edge technology that will assist in keeping the traveling public safe. WYDOT is committed to providing a safe, high-quality and efficient transportation system, and this technology further helps us accomplish that."
WYDOT has also enlisted at least one trucking operation in a pilot program to test the technology and is looking for more fleet partners.
Recently the department in coordination with the University of Wyoming and other partners demonstrated the new technology in Cheyenne, Wyoming, to show how vehicles and roadside units can communicate road information and alerts to other motorists almost in real time.
"This new technology is designed to provide travelers with additional information so they can make informed and safe decisions about their travel plans while they are on the road," said Project Manager Ali Ragan.
WYDOT said the demonstration used several vehicles, including a snow plow and roadway patrol vehicle, to show how they can communicate with each other in various situations - a forward collision warning, a distress notification, a construction zone notification and weather warnings.
Depending on the situation, the technology would either interact vehicle to vehicle, vehicle to roadside unit or roadside to vehicle.
WYDOT said it had received a USDOT grant to participate in a connected vehicle pilot deployment program. In addition to equipping snow plows and roadway patrol vehicles this winter, WYDOT plans next spring and summer to equip about 300 commercial trucks with the technology.
"For the vehicle-to-vehicle communications, a vehicle sends out a safety message and a nearby vehicle then receives it, allowing critical information to be shared in near real-time" Ragan said. "For vehicle-to-infrastructure communications, a vehicle that has information on an incident sends it to the roadside unit, which then sends it to WYDOT's Transportation Management System. The TMC can also send out alerts based on information collected from connected vehicles and other systems including weather stations and reports from maintenance employees to the road side unit, which is the roadside-to-vehicle communications piece."
In the event of a forward-collision warning, WYDOT explained, the vehicle moving at slower speeds would send out a signal indicating its speed, direction and heading. Other vehicles in the vehicle stream equipped with the technology would pick up that notification and generate alerts to drivers if there is danger of crash.
"The forward collision warning would be beneficial in a low-visibility situation," Ragan said. "This could then help prevent a crash."
John Dooley, owner of Dooley Oil of Laramie, Wyoming, and former Wyoming Transportation Commission chairman, said his firm is participating in the pilot program and that his trucks will be equipped with the technology.
"I wanted to get behind WYDOT and help test this new technology," Dooley said. "From a safety standpoint, this will definitely help commercial vehicles be prepared for any issues ahead of them on the interstate."
WYDOT said it is partnering with Sirius XM to help get the notifications to vehicles. "Sirius' satellite system has 100 percent coverage within the I-80 corridor," the department said, "which means equipped vehicles can receive the messages no matter where they are. The Sirius partnership can help fill in any gaps with the 75 roadside units."
However, WYDOT said it still needs to deploy the roadside units because Sirius can send the information but not receive it.