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The Source, by McCain

Connected & Autonomous Vehicles

Books, movies, and even Saturday morning cartoons have long depicted a future complete with jetpacks and flying cars, offering visions of a gleaming utopia promised by technology. While we may be a ways off from the Jetsons' robotic paradise, connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV) are no longer a thing of the distant future but a reality that is rapidly evolving the transportation industry today.

Why CAV Makes Sense, Now
As infrastructure partners, we are a crucial part of creating a safe and reliable environment for for driverless and connected vehicles. After all, there is no better source for accurate, real-time intersection data, which is critical to the safe operations of CAVs.

Broadcasting accurate signal data provides the foundation for a myriad of applications that can help agencies improve safety and mobility. For instance, red light violation warnings can help notify distracted drivers that are in danger of violating a red light. Or, as McCain has been demonstrating with Qualcomm, drivers could be notified of crucial safety alerts, including warning of a potential nearby pedestrian or approaching emergency vehicles. 

But how do we get started? That's a great question with many continually evolving answers, but since leading agencies and car companies agree upon the importance of broadcasting signal phase and timing (SPaT) information - a great place to start is by getting involved in the SPaT Challenge

What is the SPaT Challenge?
Recognizing the importance of SPaT data and to encourage its deployment, the SPaT Challenge initiative was launched by the V2I Deployment Coalition, led by AASHTO, ITE, and ITS America. The goal of the challenge is to have agencies deploy DSRC infrastructure and broadcast SPaT messages in at least one corridor in every state by January 2020.


The real purpose is to give us – traffic agencies and equipment providers – an entry point into DSRC-based V2I deployments. By rolling our sleeves up and getting involved in the deployment of roadside infrastructure for CAVs, agencies will gain invaluable experience in laying the ground work for more advanced applications down the road. In addition, it allows us to show automakers and other manufacturers leading the charge in the development of connected and autonomous vehicles and related applications, that we are interested in and want to encourage the deployment of V2I systems.


Getting Started with the SPaT Challenge?
Already, more than 30 agencies around the nation have gotten involved in the SPaT Challenge, with more pledging to participate all the time. So, how can you get involved?

Getting started with the SPaT Challenge is, on the surface, easy. It simply takes a desire to dip your figurative toe into the CAV landscape and broadcast SPaT data along a corridor.

Selecting a Corridor

The ideal corridor should consist of roughly 20 intersections, though you could easily get started with just 5 to 10. But what else?

Consider Infrastructure Compatibility
  • Since you have to get SPaT data out of signal controllers, corridors with relatively modern controllers, such as ATC controllers, or those about to be upgraded will make the project much smoother.
  • In the long-term, corridors connected to a central system will open the door to more potential applications.
Think Long Term
  • Think in the broader condition and longer term about your needs. Do you own the entire corridor and who are your partners? Consider future applications and partners. For instance, does or will the corridor connect to a central system to enable future applications? Or, if you’re interested in potential Transit Signal Priority (TSP) applications, does the corridor have transit?

Once you’ve selected a corridor, you’re ready to add it to the SPaT Challenge map!


Learn More
The single greatest resource for all things SPaT Challenge related is the SPaT Challenge website. Here you will find a map of all complete and underway deployments, guidelines for implementation, sample concepts of operations (ConOps), answers to the most frequently asked questions, and more.

If you are more of an audio learner, you may also want to register for our Connected and Autonomous Vehicles webinar next month which will discuss the emerging trend, its forecasted and current impact on our industry, and dive a bit more into the importance of the SPaT challenge.


Of course, Team McCain is always on-hand to help answer any questions you may have or to partner on a potential project. So, if you have immediate questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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