Pa. beginning ground-breaking study on self-driving vehicles in work zones


Pennsylvania is the first state to study how construction zones can be altered to handle automated vehicles

A road construction ahead sign in front of an orange construction traffic barrel.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WKBN) – As the country moves toward automated vehicles (AVs) and the technology that will allow them to operate on roads and highways, Pennsylvania is the first state to study how construction zones can be altered to handle them better.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has been awarded $8.4 million to test safe integration of automated driving systems in work zone areas.

In its grant filing, PennDOT wrote that “it has become clear that AVs do not perform well in work zones and routinely require human intervention.”

PennDOT has assembled a team of experts to examine and test connectivity, increasing visibility, and high definition mapping, which will allow AVs to “see” construction zones better.

PennDOT officials says there is a “gap” in testing when it comes to AVs and work zones, resulting in a “glaring weakness.”

Though there are consistent marking and notification protocols for work zones, they are often complicated or confusing due to lane markings that have not been completely removed, old lane markings that left shadows, seams in the pavement that misalign with lane markings and signage that may be inconsistent. Our project will address this market failure condition of safe integration of AVs into work zones.

“Safe Integration of Automated Vehicles into Work Zones” – PennDOT

PennDOT plans to test the technology on a closed track.

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