Research

Current Projects

Analysis, Modeling, and Simulation (AMS) Case Studies of Connected and Automated Vehicle (CAV) Implementations Specific to the South-Central Region

CAV technologies offer potentially transformative and far-reaching impacts to the Louisiana transportation system – and other associated, reliant fields. This may include impacts to: public safety, congestion, personal mobility, land use, pollution and the environment, socio-economic characteristics, and the economy. Through consistent stakeholder involvement (an electronic survey and participatory ranking and selection), a series of AMS case studies of CAV deployment strategies of importance and specific to Louisiana will identified and conducted. The case studies will most likely involve mobility-focused CAV applications. The case studies will supplement and better inform CAV-related policy, planning, and integration strategies currently being developed. They will also produce new, meaningful knowledge, quantifying the (potential) specific impacts of CAV deployments in Louisiana utilizing realistic, “real-world” transportation networks and deployment scenarios.

Past Projects

Investigating the Impacts of Truck Platooning on Transportation Infrastructure in the South-Central Region

Truck platooning is a CAV application of interest to the freight industry due to its potential energy savings, safety benefits, and ability to reduce highway congestion. However, the short following distances maintained between vehicles and more precise lane-keeping lead to a higher concentration of load being placed on the transportation infrastructure. It is unclear how these greater weight concentrations and new load configurations will impact the deterioration to pavements. The main objectives of this study are: (1) through a series of modeling case studies, the operational and environmental (fuel savings) impacts of various truck platooning configurations will be quantified at both the corridor- and network-level; and (2) impacts to the structural pavement resulting from these truck platooning implementations will be investigated and quantified using finite element (FE) modeling.

Developing Analysis, Modeling, and Simulation (AMS) Tools for Connected and Automated Vehicle (CAV) Applications

In order for CAV applications to be deployed, state and local transportation agencies must first be able to effectively and fully quantity the impacts of such deployments and identify which application best addresses their unique transportation problem. AMS tools provide an efficient means to evaluate transportation improvement projects prior to deployment. Current AMS tools are not well-suited for evaluating CAV applications, and guidance on how these AMS tools can be extended to evaluate CAV applications is non-existent. The objectives of this project is to: (1) develop AMS tools for the most prominent CAV applications; (2) incorporate these tools into existing AMS commercial products, improving the state-of-the-practice; and (3) conduct real-world case studies (practical implementation scenarios and real-world transportation networks) for the most prominent CAV applications – to better understand their impacts and deployment strategies/methods.

Hardware in the Loop Testing of Connected Automated Vehicle Applications

One of the major challenges in testing and demonstrating the benefits of CAV technologies is the small number of test vehicles available for experiments. One approach to overcome these challenges is to use emerging hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) tools that allow real test vehicles to interact with virtual vehicles from traffic simulation models – providing an evaluation environment that can replicate actual deployment conditions. The primary objectives of this project are to: (1) conduct HIL testing of two CAV applications (CACC and Eco-approach/departure); and (2) to develop software-in-the-loop models of these applications (based on the HIL field tests). This project will assess existing HIL tools and capabilities, identify appropriate HIL tools and necessary modifications, develop work plans to conduct HIL testing, HIL field tests, and development of microsimulation models. The end product will aid in the understanding of CACC and Eco-approach/departure deployments and develop accurate models for such deployments.

Development of an Analysis/Modeling/Simulation (AMS) Framework for V2I and Connected/Automated Vehicle Environment

Current traffic analysis tools are not well suited for evaluating CAV technology and application due to their inability to incorporate vehicle connectivity and autonomy. In order to evaluate the full benefits of CAV technologies on the transportation system, transportation agencies must be equipped with the necessary traffic analysis tools needed to predict potential impacts and support decision-making, both at the planning and operational levels. The objectives of this project are to lay a foundational framework for the development of an AMS tool with CAV-related capabilities and to engage in a small-scale V2I case study demonstrating the developed framework. Main tasks include to: (1) develop a Concept of Operations; (2) review and assess prior/current work in CAV AMS; (3) assess CAV data availability; (4) assess simulation models both at the tactical and strategic level; (5) develop a gap analysis of data and modeling needs; (6) develop a CAV AMS framework/architecture; and (7) conduct a small-scale study for proof of concept of the prototype framework.

Development of a Transportation System Simulation Manual (TSSM)

There is a variety of traffic and transportation engineering analysis tools for professionals to use for evaluating and improving congested roadway facilities. The development and advancement of a TSSM will help advance analysis for professionals lacking a centralized, unbiased, authoritative source of theory, best practices, and lessons learned. This project will develop and provide the first edition of the TSSM for the evaluation of transportation systems that delivers to the users the concepts, guidelines, and procedures of simulation modeling. The ultimate goal of the manual is to address the following: differing scales of modeling, integration of models, model inputs and data formats, data summary and analysis, data storage and model reuse, calibration/validation of simulation, alternative analysis, post processing of model data and interpretation. The wide availability of the manual will ensure consistency, transparency and defensibility in the development, selection, application, calibration and validation of simulation models and tools.

Developing the FHWA Driver Model Software for Practical Application

The preceding related project, “Moving FHWA Work Zone Driver Model Towards Practical Application” (see right!), produced a Work Zone DLL that interfaced with one microsimulation software package. This DLL featured specific model calibration parameters – made accessible to end-users through a Driver Model GUI – that allow end-users (such as engineers and planners at state and local DOTs) to recalibrate the model for work zone behavior specific to their region. Initial test results and expert panelist feedback indicate that the Driver Model GUI and Work Zone DLL could help DOTs better predict the operational impacts of work zones, thereby reducing the impacts of work zones in the U.S.; however, additional development and deployment is required – enhancing the capability, functionality, and usability of these research tools – to optimize adoption and maximize benefits for end-users. This project seeks to enhance the Work Zone Driver Model DLL and Driver Model GUI, improving specific identified features and pushing these tools towards deployment.

Studies have shown that driver behavior in work zones is different than non-work zones. Specifically, lane-changing and car-following behaviors change when the driver is approaching and traversing a work zone. Despite considerable research to improve work zone mobility, there has been little focus on the effective use of microsimulation tools to analyze work zone operations. A recent FHWA-sponsored project collected car-following data from 64 drivers and developed a new framework for modeling driver behavior in work zones. This project will identify the most prevalent microsimulation tools being used by agencies to determine and characterize how driver behavior in work zones are quantified in the individual models. Focusing on the driver behavior component, this project will identify the software modifications necessary to make simulation models more accurately evaluate the impact of work zones (via the newly developed framework). These modifications will include: (1) specific model calibration parameters; and (2) changes to the embedded logic in the models.

Moving FHWA Work Zone Driver Model Towards Practical Application