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Source: PennDOT

Harrisburg, Pa. – PennDOT has been awarded an $8.4 million United States Department of Transportation (DOT) grant to test the safe integration of automated driving systems (ADS) into work zones.

The project’s goal is to develop a consistent approach to allow for automated vehicles (AVs) to safely operate in work zones and is the first of its kind in the country.

The grant application was submitted by the department, along with partners includingPennsylvania Turnpike Commission; Pennsylvania State University; and Carnegie Mellon University.

According to PennDOT, Pennsylvania is at the very epicenter of the rise in Highly Automated Vehicle (HAV) technology. Pa.’s research universities have continually served as a breeding ground for technological advances. Carnegie Mellon University  is known as the “birthplace of self-driving vehicles,” and the University of Pennsylvania’s robotics research program

is renowned worldwide. Pennsylvania has emerged as a leading location for on‐road testing of HAVs as they steadily advance toward practical use.

“I am thrilled that the efforts of the department and our partners in the realm of automated vehicle technology have received national recognition,” said PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards. “Crashes in highway work zones have killed at least 4,700 Americans – more than two a day – and injured 200,000 in the last five years alone. If we can improve how AV’s interact with work zones, there will be significant safety benefits for the traveling public.”

PennDOT plans to take a systematic, incremental approach of working with testers in simulation and on a closed track to verify the proposed AV solutions will improve safety and serve as a logical common ground between testers and infrastructure owners/operators.