Truck platooning trial – first-hand field visit
This week the NC Turnpike Authority, Volvo Trucks North America, and FedEx teamed up for an on-highway field trial of truck platooning. Three tractor semi-trailers traveled in succession on the NC 540 and NC 147 turnpike freeway system, with the throttle and brake operated autonomously. The advanced driver assistance system operates the trucks at 1.5 second headways, which enable other cars to enter between the successive vehicles (e.g., to merge onto a freeway). This week’s trial marked the nation’s first public on-highway demonstration of platooning technology between a major truck manufacturer and a transportation company. I was able to travel in one of the trucks as well as in a test “cut-in vehicle” during the pilot trial. My understanding is that safety will be the primary benefit of the system, with the added potential for fuel savings. The Triangle Expressway is the most advanced turnpike in America, and RTA is pleased to support projects like Accelerate 540 which will dramatically extend the corridor and expand the opportunities for our region to take advantage of advanced mobility technology.

Autonomous vehicles – another first-hand field visit
Earlier this month I took a family vacation to several national parks in the intermountain west. Before we visited the nation’s natural splendor, our family spent a few hours in Las Vegas, where we got to travel on the AAA Navya autonomous shuttle in the city’s Downtown. The shuttle successfully accelerated, steered, and braked by itself through the city streets in the pilot area. While the experience was by no means “perfect”, our family was quite impressed. Our autonomous future is clearly getting a lot closer.

RTA Summit Series on mobility innovations – epilogue/next steps
The theme of our first-ever RTA Summit Series held last month at multiple sites across the Triangle was, “Accelerating mobility innovations amidst growth and uncertainty.” The event was an interactive, three-day, tactical and strategic conversation of potential mobility innovations and options, given the current and potential policy and funding landscape in our market and across our state and nation, and amidst the rapid rate of technology change. We have summarized what we heard into six broad themes, including sustainable funding for highways, enhanced funding for RDU, reducing barriers to considering and using transit, safer and better streets, freeway caps and connecting communities, and overall thoughts.  RTA leadership will be incorporating insights from the summit series into our 2019 business plan, which we will plan to approve later this summer.

RTA elevates the voice of our members and enables them to make an informed impact. Thank you for your investment!

Let’s get moving,

Joe

Joe Milazzo II, PE
RTA Executive Director