Aecom to help develop autonomous vehicle corridor for Michigan

Cavnue’s visualisation of an autonomous vehicle-enabled highway (Source: Cavnue)
Aecom has joined an initiative launched by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and road technology firm Cavnue to develop a dedicated autonomous vehicle corridor between Detroit and Ann Arbor.

The idea is to integrate hardware and software to create a more effective operating environment for so-called ‘connected and autonomous vehicles’, or CAVs, by providing more information to them about road conditions, thereby making make use of developing in-vehicle technology.

Cavnue, a subsidiary of Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners, which is backed by Google’s parent company, Alphabet, began a 24-month study into the feasibility of retrofitting some 40 miles of Interstate 94 and Michigan Avenue last August. Project partners include Ford Motor Company, the University of Michigan, the American Center for Mobility and WSP USA Inc.

Aecom will provide engineering planning and design services.

MDOT says it wants to create lanes that are “purpose-built to accelerate and enhance the full potential of CAVs and move people”. It believes CAVs can cut road accidents caused by human error and ease congestion.

Its contract agreement with Cavnue said the “anchor-use” of such a corridor would be to provide a public transit alternative – “an autonomous shuttle service that can offer greater safety, throughput, and system-level efficiency than otherwise possible when compared with conventional vehicle or transit services, such as bus rapid transit or light rail transit”.

“This partnership will advance transportation in a way that’s sustainable, smarter and safer for generations to come in Michigan,” said Jennifer Aument, Aecom’s global transportation chief executive.

“Smart cars need smart roads,” said Tyler Duvall, Cavnue’s co-founder and chief executive. “Cavnue’s mission is to simplify and enhance the driving environment to unlock the full potential of all autonomous vehicles.”

The company has assembled an advisory committee of automotive and autonomous mobility companies – including Ford, GM, Argo AI, Arrival, BMW, Honda, Toyota, TuSimple, and Waymo – in a bid to develop neutral standards for the development of the technologies.

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