The following was contributed by ITE member Faisal Saleem, ITS Branch Manager & MCDOT SMARTDrive Program Manager:
On March 2, 2017, the Arizona ITE-IMSA Spring Conference hosted the first Signal Phase and Timing (SPaT) Challenge National Workshop on behalf of AASHTO, ITE, and the vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) Deployment Coalition. The purpose of the National SPaT Challenge is to encourage transportation infrastructure owners and operators to take the first step in using connected vehicle technology. Representatives from AASHTO, ITE, CALTRANS, Maricopa County Department of Transportation (MCDOT), Utah DOT, University of Arizona, and Toyota Motors presented at the workshop.
On Friday, March 3, 2017, workshop attendees were able to see first-hand what will be required to pursue the SPaT Challenge when they attended an Arizona Connected Vehicle demonstration of the MCDOT SMARTDrive system for connected vehicles in Anthem, AZ, USA. The Arizona Connected Vehicle Program was initiated in 2007 through a partnership with MCDOT, the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) and the University of Arizona to research and identify how new applications connecting vehicles to the infrastructure (V2I) could enhance traffic signal operations, incident management, and traveler information.
Originally created to improve emergency responder safety and mobility at intersections, the MCDOT SMARTDrive system allows for two-way communication between vehicles and roadway infrastructure by using dedicated short range communications (DSRC), a component of the Multi-Modal Intelligent Traffic Signal Systems (MMITSS). MMITSS prioritizes traffic flow and pedestrian movements to improve safety and mobility.
The purpose of the SPaT challenge is to encourage cooperation among the state and local public sector transportation infrastructure owners and operators in order to deploy dedicated short range communications (DSRC) technology along roadway corridors. The DSRC broadcasts real-time SPaT messages to connected vehicles. The goal of the challenge is to establish at least one DSRC-enabled corridor in each of the 50 states by January 2020.
This challenge comes as a precursor to the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration’s (NHSTA) mandate for new light vehicles to have vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications capabilities. Understanding the critical value of uniformity, the NHSTA mandate will also standardize the message and format of V2V transmissions. This uniformity will create an information environment in which vehicle and device manufacturers can create and implement applications to improve safety, mobility, and the environment. These vehicles will also be able to receive messages, such as SPaT, from the roadway infrastructure to improve safety and mobility. AASHTO and the V2I Deployment Coalition chose to promote the SPaT challenge as it is a relatively simple introduction to V2I technology and is the basis of many other connected vehicle applications.
“Connected and automated vehicles and their applications offer such great potential to the future of transportation,” said Jennifer Toth, MCDOT Director. “The transportation industry is only beginning to fathom the magnitude of its possibilities.” From improved mobility to vehicle prioritization and from red light violation warnings to weather alerts, transportation is truly experiencing the dawn of a new day. These technologies will provide seamless transportation with the flexibility to meet the ever-changing demands of our society. “I encourage everyone to take the first step and accept the SPaT challenge,” said Director Jennifer Toth.