Automated vehicles (AVs) have the potential to transform our nation’s transportation system and disrupt Americans’ quality of life for the better. Automation promises to reduce roadway fatalities, enhance and expand mobility and access for all travelers, and improve the efficiency of our nation’s transportation system.

Because of these tremendous benefits, the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) is committed to fostering surface transportation innovations to ensure the United States leads the world in AV technology development and integration while prioritizing safety, security, and privacy. The Federal Government recently released Ensuring American Leadership in Automated Vehicle Technologies: Automated Vehicles 4.0 (AV 4.0), which presents a unifying posture to inform collaborative efforts in AVs for all stakeholders and outlines past and current Federal Government efforts to address these areas of concern.

CARMASM is part of these efforts. The U.S. DOT’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) developed CARMA, an open-source software platform, to collaboratively test cooperative driving automation innovations and ensure that they produce the safest, most efficient, and most effective results. CARMA enables automated driving systems to navigate more safely and efficiently with other vehicles and roadway infrastructure through communication and cooperation.

CARMA is guided by two principles:

1. Develop in the open, using open-source best practices, to share cooperative driving automation research and

2. Collaborate with transportation stakeholders to progress cooperative driving research.

The platform allows stakeholders to come together to develop, test, improve, and build on cooperative automation technologies, working toward improving all aspects of transportation with an emphasis on the U.S. DOT’s number one goal—safety. CARMA also advances transportation management strategies, focusing on increasing efficiency with the use of automated driving technologies and moving traffic more efficiently along America’s roadways.

Available on GitHub, a software development platform, CARMA is designed to work hand in hand with any vehicle, hardware, or control system to allow for collaboration between different stakeholder groups, across different platforms, and within a wide range of different modes. It supports and enables AVs to cooperate through communication between vehicles, infrastructure, and other road users (including pedestrians, cyclists, and electric scooter users).

CARMA’s unique capabilities fill a specific niche in the automation sphere, allowing for all manner of transportation stakeholders and users to take advantage of cooperative driving automation technologies in the most efficient way possible. Through CARMA, cooperative driving automation technology is already being tested and implemented in diverse vehicles, such as water- and rail-traveling machines and freight trucks, in addition to traditional passenger cars. With automated driving systems becoming more and more advanced—and more prevalent on the roads—CARMA provides a solution to streamline software development and provide access to increased functionality and a community of developers.

Across the country, FHWA has a growing community of development partners committed to CARMA research that will enable future testing and deployment. Today, these are mostly academic institutions. In the future, the project will further expand the community’s contributors to include more academic researchers, automotive original equipment manufacturer partners, technology start-ups, and mapping companies, among others. Essentially, FHWA aims to collaborate on CARMA with people and organizations invested in AVs and the future of transportation.

Beyond reducing traffic congestion and improving transportation safety, CARMA also will support industry collaboration and expand on existing automation capabilities to reduce research and development time and advance cooperative driving automation technology. In particular, CARMA has helped to develop enhanced traffic incident management capabilities. The technology will allow first responders to interact more effectively with automated driving systems. CARMA can also help enhance work zone management, traffic incident response, and weather alerts.

To learn more about the design and evolution of the CARMA Platform and opportunities to collaborate with CARMA, please visit our FHWA site, GitHub site, and Confluence site.

About the author:

Dr. Taylor Lochrane, Ph.D.
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