• Connected and Automated Vehicles

    Automated and connected vehicle technologies are becoming some of the most heavily researched automotive technologies. Currently, some automated and connected vehicle technologies are available, but are only a fraction of what will be available in the future. Although this page contains separate sections for connected and automated vehicle technologies, be aware that many of the technologies overlap. For instance, to have a fully automated vehicle, the vehicle must also be a connected vehicle.

    Connected Vehicles

    Source: Center for Automotive Research (CAR) Publications

    Connected vehicles are vehicles that use any of a number of different communication technologies to communicate with the driver, other cars on the road (vehicle-to-vehicle [V2V]), roadside infrastructure (vehicle-to-infrastructure [V2I]), and the “Cloud.” This technology can be used to not only improve vehicle safety, but also to improve vehicle efficiency and commute times. Listed below are some of the benefits of connected vehicles:

    crash elimination

    Crash Elimination: Crash-free driving and improved vehicle safety could change the concept of a vehicle as we know it

    Reduced Need for New Inf

    Reduced Need for New Infrastructure: Self-driving can reduce the need for building new infrastructure and reduce maintenance costs

    Travel Time

    Travel Time Dependability: Convergence can substantially reduce uncertainty in travel times via real-time, predictive assessment of travel times on all routes

    Productivity Improvements

    Productivity Improvements: Convergence will allow travelers to make use of travel time productively 

    Improved Energy

    Improved Energy Efficiency: Reduced energy consumption in at least three ways: more efficient driving; lighter, more fuel-efficient vehicles; and efficient infrastructure

    New Models

    New Models for Vehicle Ownership: Self-driving vehicles could lead to a major redefinition of vehicle ownership and expand opportunities for vehicle sharing

    New Business Models

    New Business Models and Scenarios: Convergence of technologies may realign industries such that ecosystem participants need to compete and collaborate at the same time

    Although adding connectivity to vehicles has its benefits, it also has challenges. By adding connectivity, there can be issues with security, privacy, data analytics, and aggregation due to the abundance of data associated with vehicles.

    This technology may seem new, but the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) in a joint research effort with the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) has already started setting V2V and V2I communication standards, such as using a 5 GHZ frequency for transmission. Click here to learn more about this research and these standards.

    Some modern examples of vehicle connectivity are General Motor’s OnStar, Ford’s Sync, and Chrysler’s Uconnect.  Click here for a view of the future on how your car may become the control center of your life.


    Automated Vehicles

    Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Federal Automated Vehicles Policy - September 2016

    Fully automated (sometimes called autonomous) or “self-driving” vehicles are defined by the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as “those in which operation of the vehicle occurs without direct driver input to control the steering, acceleration, and braking and are designed so that the driver is not expected to constantly monitor the roadway while operating in self-driving mode.” There have been multiple definitions for various levels of automation and for some time there has been need for standardization to aid clarity and consistency. Therefore, this NHTSA has adopted the SAE International definitions for levels of automation. The SAE definitions divide vehicles into levels based on “who does what, when.” Generally:

    • Level 0: The human driver does everything.
    • Level 1: An automated system on the vehicle can sometimes assist the human driver conduct some parts of the driving work.
    • Level 2: An automated system on the vehicle can actually conduct some parts of the driving task, while the human driver continues to monitor the driving environment and performs the rest of the driving task.
    • Level 3: An automated system can both actually conduct some parts of the driving task and monitor the driving environment in some instances, by the human driver must be ready to take back control when the automated system requests.
    • Level 4: An automated system can conduct the driving task and monitor the driving environment, and the human need not take back control, but the automated system can operate only in certain environments and under certain conditions.
    • Level 5: The automated system can perform all driving tasks, under all conditions that a human driver could perform them. 

    See the SAE Summary

    *Note: Vehicles with automation levels 3-5 must also incorporate connected vehicle technologies, and are referred to collectively as "highly automated vehicles" (HAV). 

    Of these six levels, only up to level 2 is currently available to the public. However, the federal government and manufacturers are now researching, developing, and testing level 4 automation technologies on public roads in certain states that have passed enabling legislation. The states that have passed legislation allowing higher level automated vehicles include California, Florida, Michigan, and Nevada. Several other states are also working to pass similar legislation. 


    The Road to Autonomous Vehicles Presentation - HI-TEC 2016 - A presentation by Bob Feldmaier, Director of the Center for Advanced Automotive Technology, at the 2016 High Impact Technology Exchange Conference (HI-TEC) discussing the following three questions: Why the interest in autonomous vehicles?  How does the technology work?  What are the remaining challenges?

    To learn more about automated and connected vehicle technologies, visit the Automated and Connected Vehicle Technology section of our Resource Library, our Quick Links page, the videos and links below, or this article explaining how automated vehicles could change our lives:


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