Virginia Tech Transportation Institute awarded $15M for autonomous vehicle research - Technical.ly DC

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Sep. 20, 2019 10:29 am

Virginia Tech Transportation Institute awarded $15M for autonomous vehicle research

The two grants, each amounting to $7.5 million, were awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation through the Automated Driving System Demonstration Grants program.
A (cute lil’) self-driving car.

A (cute lil') self-driving car.

(Photo by Flickr user smoothgroover22, used under a Creative Commons license)

The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI), the transportation research and innovation arm of the Blacksburg, Virginia-based university, has been awarded two grants totaling $15 million to conduct research on the advancement of autonomous vehicles in the U.S.

The two grants, each amounting to $7.5 million, were awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation through the Automated Driving System Demonstration Grants program, which provides federal funding to projects that are working on initiatives to safely get autonomous vehicles on the roads in the U.S. A press release states that 73 U.S. agencies submitted proposals for funding, and VTTI was the only organization to receive two grants out of the bunch.

Along with this funding, the Virginia Department of Transportation will provide additional support to VTTI to help the institute drive its transportation projects.

“As one of our premier research centers, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute continues to lead and innovate in autonomous technologies and vehicle safety,” Virginia Tech President Tim Sands said in a statement. “These awards, and the support of our national and state transportation agencies, will enable the advancement of critical research to address transportation challenges and create new opportunities for smart infrastructure growth.”

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One of VTTI’s projects focuses on public safety while adapting autonomous vehicles. The institute is partnering with Transurban, the Virginia Department of Transportation, public safety stakeholders, the Global Center for Automotive Performance and a consortium of automotive manufacturers to test autonomous vehicle public safety hazards. Transurban will operate testing on the I-95 express lanes for this project.

The other project focuses on how to safely implement and benefit from automated trucks, as well as integrating autonomous tech into fleet operations with conventional trucks. Demonstrations for this project will take place on public U.S. roadways.

“We are very happy to take these important steps to move automated vehicles forward to save lives, improve mobility across the population, and reduce the impact of vehicle emissions,” Tom Dingus, director of VTTI and endowed professor of biomedical engineering and mechanics at Virginia Tech, said in a statement.

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