Research Archive

Research Approach Research Progress and Insights

The Road Weather connected vehicle applications program seeks to:

  • Improve safety by reducing crash risk due to inclement weather, increase awareness among agencies and users of the real-time conditions, and restore safer driving conditions quicker and more efficiently.
  • Increase mobility by restoring capacity, reducing delays, and creating more uniform traffic flow.
  • Increase productivity and reduce operation costs by optimizing the use of labor, pavement treatments, and equipment.

Research Goals

  • Identify the range of sources for collecting robust data that will support road condition and pavement forecasting, specifically focusing on the incorporation of mobile data information and data from public sector mobile sources such as fleets.
  • Develop algorithms and capabilities to translate mobile data into usable weather and road condition observations.
  • Incorporate these observations into effective management systems and weather-responsive traffic management and advanced decision support tools. 

Research Questions

  • What vehicle-based or infrastructure-based data is available?  What is the data quality and validity and where are the gaps?
  • How can vehicle-based and mobile source data be processed and integrated with existing weather and road weather data to support forecasting of road and pavement conditions?
  • What are the most effective ways to convey road weather information to affect driver and operator behavior, and to incorporate it into broad safety and mobility applications?
  • What public sector applications are needed and what are their benefits?

The program uses a multi-track approach to address the range of activities required for research:

Track 1: Stakeholder Coordination

  • Maintain and expand the unique partnership among the public, private, and academic sectors; the transportation and weather communities; and operations and research personnel that has been developed to achieve a multi-disciplinary approach to problem solving.
  • Engage with the private sector to build new services around the data and applications platforms that result from the research.
  • Enhance mechanisms for communicating road weather information to users, including transportation officials and the public.
  • Integrate road weather technologies into an information infrastructure.

Track 2: Program & Performance Management

  • Ensure road weather management investments improve highway performance

Track 3: Road Weather Research and Development: Data

  • Identify and integrate new and expanded road weather data sources (in particular, mobile sources and State and local DOT fleets) that enhance roadway safety, capacity, and efficiency while minimizing environmental impacts.
  • Analyze the capability of existing vehicle sensors to collect road weather data.
  • Research the characteristics and quality of the data that can be retrieved from vehicles.
  • Assess whether existing standards for data collection need to be modified for collecting weather data.

Track 4: Road Weather Research and Development: Applications

  • Develop algorithms and capabilities to translate mobile data into useable weather and road condition observations.
  • Refine weather forecasting and transportation models that take advantage of these rich new data sources.
  • Advance the state-of-the-art for mobile sensing and integrating vehicle data into road weather applications

Track 5: Road Weather Research and Development: Weather Responsive Traffic Management

Analyze how to maximize the use of available road weather information and technologies for greater safety and operational benefits by:

  • Integrating existing observational networks and data management systems.
  • Investigating the translational needs and formats for taking existing observational data and making it useable for dynamic mobility or environmental applications.
  • Incorporating recent advances in weather-responsive traffic management and decision support tools into operations.
  • Improving weather modeling capabilities and forecast tools, such as the road surface and atmospheric interface.
  • Enhancing mechanisms for communicating road weather information to users, including transportation officials and the public.

Track 6: Technology Transfer, Training and Education

  • Enable technology transfer of effective road weather scientific and technological advances into the commercial marketplace.
  • Improve education and training of road weather information users, such as State and local transportation officials and private sector transportation contractors.
  • Coordinate with transportation weather research programs in other modes, such as aviation.

Track 7: Operations, Climate Change & Sustainability

  • Operations community is engaged with climate change & sustainability communities

High-Priority Research Areas (2015 - 2019)

The Road Weather connected vehicle applications program will continue to invest in applied research in partnership with industry that addresses high-risk problems whose solutions benefit both manufacturers (in terms of enhanced or new products and markets) and agencies (in terms of being able to procure state-of-the-art technologies).

The program will promote the adoption of advanced technologies, techniques, and tools such as capturing and translating vehicle data into weather and pavement observations and utilizing that data to create more sophisticated applications and integrated decision support systems. The result is a research initiative that benefits state and local agencies, private weather providers, and the traveling public.

The program has identified the following high-priority research areas for the next ITS Strategic Plan for 2015-2019:

  • Data and Applications - Continue research on road weather sensor design and integration within vehicles; data communications and standards; data management and quality checking; interpretation of observed mobile data and proper assimilation methods for incorporation of mobile data with other observed and modeled data; and, improved methods for information display and delivery including an understanding of human factors associated with user interpretation.
  • State and Local Implementation Issues - From the existing RWMP projects, get a better understanding of the barriers and opportunities for public agencies to make investments on Connected Vehicle RWM applications, including the extent of infrastructure investments.
  • Multi-Modal Integration - Continue research to build the bridge between ongoing state DOT efforts and connected vehicles and automation, in accordance with updates to the National ITS Architecture.
  • Architecture & Standards - Develop a Connected Vehicle Reference Implementation Architecture for RWM data and applications.
  • Early Stage Applications - Engage the solutions developer community to research and develop applications that leverage a flexible RWM connected vehicle communications environment.
  • Connected Vehicle Pilots - Create real-world environments, urban and rural, in which public- and private-sector cooperation in implementation can educate the deployment community on the opportunities for replicating deployment.
  • Data Exchange Facilitation & Interoperability - Coordinate, internationally and domestically, information sharing specifications, architecture, and standards necessary for enhanced road weather data sharing across the public and private sectors within the transportation and meteorological communities. Develop and promote strategies that will foster interoperability among agencies for ingesting and disseminating weather data more universally.
  • Surface Modeling - High spatial and temporal resolution surface modeling (integration of national weather prediction, pavement, traffic, and maintenance operations models)
  • Vehicle Automation - Understand the impact of road weather in connected vehicle automation and role of automation-enabled road weather applications in improving safety, mobility and environment.
  • Expanded Regional Pilots - Demonstrate data management capabilities to support multi-modal RWM operations and data fusion, including crowd-sourced information.
  • Climate Change and Sustainability - Climate change, especially meeting the information needs during extreme weather events, and role of ITS in meeting the needs. Analyzing and anticipating the effects of climate change will ensure sustainable activities and strategies for deployment and operational decisions related to the ITS environment.

Research Focus (2015 - 2019)

  • 2015 - Connected vehicle prototype applications developed, tested, evaluated, and potential demonstrated
  • 2016 - Vehicle Data Translator and Weather Data Environment mature and ready for road weather connected vehicle data capture and management
  • 2017 - Weather-Responsive Traffic Management strategies implemented, tested, and ready for deployment; Guidance on State DOT/NWS operations completed
  • 2018 - High-resolution (spatial and temporal) and route/segment-specific road condition prediction capability proven for mainstream implementation
  • 2019 - Weather-sensitive automation capabilities demonstrated; Guidance for weather-related performance measurement and management ready

Research Outcomes

Reduce the adverse impacts that weather conditions have on the safety and operation of the Nation’s roads.

  • Providing the technology platforms, information, tools, and resources that can help surface transportation users and managers take action to alleviate the impacts of weather events with effective strategies and programs. 
  • Serving as a catalyst for the development of new products and services