The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute will receive $55 million to further study safety efforts for commercial truck drivers and automated vehicles.
The contracts are awarded from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Virgina Tech discovered that text messaging while driving increases the risk of a crash or near-crash event by 23 times for truck and bus drivers. Virginia Tech research also helped shape current hours-of-service rules – that’s the allotted time commercial drivers are allowed behind the wheel during any given day or week – now in use by the regulatory agency.
Some reports indicate that the truck driver in the Tracy Morgan crash did not sleep for more than 24 hours, when finally noticed that traffic slowed he slammed a big rig truck into Morgan’s limo.
Research is expected to take multiple years and includes the use of a naturalistic driving video capture technique, which places multiple cameras inside and outside a vehicle, unobtrusively recording the participant driver as he or she interacts with the vehicle and the road while traveling.
Additional potential tasks include vehicle handling and braking, vehicle dynamics, and other characteristics that influence driver behavior.
Autonomous Driverless Cars
The $25 million contract from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is being awarded for new Center for Automated Vehicle Systems. The award focuses on research – including safety protocols – of automated-vehicle technology that is expected to flood the automotive market during the next decade and beyond.
Myra Blanco will study vehicle electronic systems, including electronic controls of the vehicle, seek reinforcements to block potential hacking of vehicles, and identify potential safety issues, including fail-safe systems. Serving as co-investigators on the contract will be Dingus, and Greg Fitch, a research scientist with the institute.
Research will focus on how motorists interact with automated vehicles, such as letting the car autonomous programming take driving control duties, and the need or possibility of the a human commandeering the operation of the car.