New $4M initiative is funded by the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC), and managed through a collaboration of US Ignite, Fort Carson, the city of Colorado Springs, and the University of Colorado
Washington, D.C. – October 10, 2019 – US Ignite today announces the launch of a smart transportation testbed and autonomous vehicle (AV) pilot program in coordination with Fort Carson, neighboring Colorado Springs, and the University of Colorado’s Research and Engineering Center for Unmanned Vehicles (RECUV). With a focus on reducing transportation costs, improving public safety, and delivering faster services, the $4 million joint endeavor – funded by the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) – is designed to serve as a model for future smart military installations nationally.
Out of an annual transportation budget of $1 billion, the Department of Defense (DoD) spends $435 million yearly for non-tactical passenger vehicles and light trucks, with a use rate of just 7%. This puts the DoD in a unique and urgent position to leverage new technologies that could significantly reduce vehicle spending.
In addition, with a large percentage of service members living off base, the development of new sensor-driven and AV-related technologies has the power to improve road safety and decrease congestion not only within military installations, but also in the cities and towns that surround them.
“This research will advance the U.S. ability to leverage autonomous transportation systems to improve mission readiness and mission assurance at installations in areas that include infrastructure, operations, security, economics, communications, and planning to meet our National defense objectives,” said Jim P. Allen, PE, ERDC program manager. “Smart military posts, like smart cities around the country, must explore advancements in mobility and automation that leverage sensors and big data to optimize operational efficiencies and improve the lives of Soldiers and their families. Fort Carson’s controlled installation environment also connects to the larger Colorado Springs region, making it an ideal research testbed for at-scale development of next-generation transportation technology.”
Phase one of the Fort Carson program will begin with the deployment of up to two automated shuttles on site. As the program develops, the research team will also explore on and off-post automated delivery vehicles and shuttles.
“The future of smart military installations, and of transportation technologies, is dependent on implementing high-quality, data-driven, and repeatable pilot programs that enable researchers to investigate challenges securely and at scale,” said Nick Maynard, Chief Strategy Officer, US Ignite. “We envision the Fort Carson project as the start of a wave of new research testbeds at military posts that will help revolutionize transportation for decades to come.”
The program will also include a sophisticated data sharing initiative between Fort Carson and Colorado Springs. Smart sensors will be used on base to monitor traffic, parking, and public safety, and will be linked to information from the city’s own sensors and mapping systems to create joint data repositories. Researchers will apply analytics to these datasets to improve safety and services, and eventually to develop machine-learning models that prioritize transportation resources based on usage rates and community needs.
“The City of Colorado Springs is excited to be partnering with US Ignite, Fort Carson and others on this autonomous vehicle (AV) pilot project since it aligns well with our smart communities program, SmartCOS,” said Bret Waters, Deputy Chief of Staff, City of Colorado Springs. “Collectively, we will better understand the use cases and business models of AVs as it relates to a military installation and urban environments.”
The Fort Carson smart transportation testbed and AV pilot program is made possible by funding from the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center. For more information, visit https://www.us-ignite.org/program/fort-carson-transportation-testbed/.