Automated Highway Systems Research on Design, Development and Implementation Issues

by Jerry Schneider

Some of the contributors to this Dualmode Debate page may not be aware of the large AHS research effort mounted in the early 1990's in the U.S. Since many of the issues that were investigated are still very much on the agenda of those interested in developing and deploying both intracity and intercity dualmode systems, a description of this work is presented below.

In 1993, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) awarded fifteen Precursor Systems Analyses (PSA) research contracts totaling $14.1M to investigate the issues and risks related to the design, development, and implementation of Automated Highway Systems (AHS). These contracts, each of approximately one year duration, were awarded during the period July through September, 1993, based on a Broad Agency Announcement issued by FHWA in November, 1992. At the time, the AHS program was part of a major initiative of the US Department of Transportation in Intelligent Vehicle/Highway Systems. This program was subsequently terminated in 1998. See the TRB Special Report #253 entitled National Automated Highway System Research Program: A Review, for details.

Summarized here is a listing of the 20 activity areas within which research was conducted under the AHS PSA program. These PSA studies were conducted as part of the early stages of the government's AHS Program. Additional details regarding the contractors that performed these studies and summaries of their results are available from the Volpe library.  This is a rich source of information about a wide variety of AHS problems and opportunities. The full text of the 72 reports (85,000 pages) is available on a CD-ROM which can be purchased for $85 from the Volpe library.

Precursor Systems Analyses Research Topics

A) Urban and Rural AHS Comparison -- an analysis which defines and contrasts the urban and rural operational environments relative to AHS deployment

B) Automated Check-In -- issues relating to certifying vehicle equipment is functioning properly for AHS operation, in a manner enabling smooth flow onto the system

C) Automated Check-Out -- issues relating to transitioning control to the human driver and certifying vehicle equipment in functioning properly for manual operation

D) Lateral and Longitudinal Control Analysis -- technical analyses relating to automated vehicle control

E) Malfunction Management and Analysis -- analyses relating to design approaches for an AHS which is highly reliable and fault tolerant

F) Commercial Transit AHS Analysis -- issues relating to the unique needs of commercial and transit vehicles operating within the AHS

G) Comparable Systems Analysis -- an effort to derive “lessons learned” from other system development and deployment efforts with similarities to AHS

H) AHS Roadway Deployment Analysis -- issues relating to the deployability of possible AHS configurations within existing freeway networks

I) Impact of AHS on Surrounding Non-AHS Roadways -- analysis of the overall network impact of AHS deployment and development of mitigation strategies

J) AHS Entry/Exit Implementation -- analysis of highway design issues relating to the efficient flow of vehicles on and off of the AHS facility

K) AHS Roadway Operational Analysis -- issues relating to the ongoing operation of an AHS

L) Vehicle Operational Analysis -- issues relating to the operation of an AHS vehicle, including the retrofitting of vehicles for AHS operation

M) Alternative Propulsion Systems Impact -- analysis of possible impacts alternately propelled vehicles may have on AHS deployment and operation

N) AHS Safety Issues -- broad analysis of safety issues pertaining to AHS

O) Institutional and Societal Aspects -- broad analysis of the many non-technical issues which are critical to successful deployment of AHS

P) Preliminary Cost/Benefit Factors Analysis -- an early assessment of the factors which comprise the costs an benefits of AHS.

Q) Preliminary Measures of Performance -- an analysis that projects initial system performance specifications milestones for an AHS program.

R) Other Reports -- additional analyses of various AHS areas.

S) Summary Reports -- Summaries and assessements of findings.

For a more recent assessment of AHS activities around the world, see the article by Richard Bishop entitled "Whatever Happened to AHS?". The main AHS activity in the U.S. at this time is being conducted by the Cooperative Vehicle-Highway Automated Systems group.


Last modified: August 16, 2002