Automated Trucking Best Suited for Highways in Florida, California

A new report from transportation analytics specialist Inrix that looked at truck traffic routes in the US finds that Florida and California would benefit the most from the expanded deployment of autonomous trucks.

The most ideal corridor for initial deployment is Interstate 5 (I-5) running from the Canadian border to Northern California — a route that scored highest due to its length and its high traffic incident rate.

Inrix’s research arm used three variables to determine the best corridors for autonomous truck deployment: freight volume, congestion levels and incidents rates.

In second place was the stretch of I-95 in Florida from Jacksonville to Miami, which boasts very high freight volumes but low congestion levels, making that route a “winning” top spot.

Overall, the report noted the US offers solid potential for highly automated vehicle (HAV) deployment, thanks to growing freight demand combined with a dwindling labor pool.

Inrix’s Automated Freight Corridor Assessment report also identified corridors with high incidents rates, which includes accidents, slowdowns and construction, to show where HAV technology could have the most benefits.

Due to its high freight volume and high incident rate I-75 from Chattanooga to Atlanta ranked highest in terms of driver risk.

Interstate 45, which runs between Houston and Dallas, placed second in the safety ranking due to its uncommonly high incident rate — at least 10% higher than any other US corridor studied.

The US is the most congested developed country in the world, with drivers spending an average of 41 hours a year in traffic during peak hours, according to a February report from the firm.

The new report also noted that while the US has a number of solid routes for HAV development, broad distribution of high-volume, low-congestion corridors could lead to a more diffuse pattern of adoption, compared to countries where a select few routes stand out.

“Using data-driven analysis to match specific HAV technology not only helps the public and private sectors identify initial testing and deployment areas that prioritize the goals of both parties, but also positions the technology for the greatest chance of success,” Avery Ash, Inrix’s head of autonomous mobility, wrote in a blog post.

In July Inrix launched AV Road Rules, a platform designed to connect transportation authorities with operators of HAVs.

The platform provides a standardized framework for road authorities to assign and manage rules and restrictions for roads where HAVs operate, and allows information to be shared by vehicles in operation.

So far, seven cities and road authorities are on board with AV Road Rules, including Austin, Boston and Las Vegas. The platform also has a presence in the UK.

The AV Road Rules platform provides static rules such as speed limits, turn restrictions, traffic directional flow, lane restrictions and geo-fencing, as well as variable rules based on time of day or day of week. This also includes an initial list of common rules and restrictions.

In June Inrix partnered with Information Logistics (ILog) on an emergency alert service for transportation agencies to assist with detecting and managing large-scale highway emergencies.

— Nathan Eddy is a filmmaker and freelance journalist based in Berlin. Follow him on Twitter.

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