Programs

Autonomous Vehicles

CDOT, recognizing the ever-changing landscape of the automobile as we know it, leverages the connected and autonomous technology (CAT) program to prepare the State of Colorado for changes necessary that are brought forward by higher levels of vehicle automation. Read below to find out how CDOT is preparing for vehicle automation.

Connected and Autonomous Technology Program & Vehicle Automation

The vehicle as we know it is changing at rapid speed. It’s becoming increasingly common for production vehicles today to include technology that introduces the human driver to some form of automation. CDOT, recognizing the ever-changing landscape of the automobile as we know it, leverages the connected and autonomous technology (CAT) program to prepare the State of Colorado for changes necessary that are brought forward by higher levels of vehicle automation. The program seeks to ensure Colorado’s transportation system is ready to support the safe operation of connected and autonomous technologies by providing strategy, direction and subject matter expertise. The CAT program serves as a liaison between the industry, the State, and other relevant stakeholders for the testing and operation of ADS that cannot comply with all applicable laws, ensuring a streamlined process for industry to interact with the State.

Read below to find out how CDOT is preparing for vehicle automation.

What is an autonomous vehicle?

There is a lot of information out there regarding autonomous vehicles. You may have even read several different names or references (autonomous vehicle, automated vehicle, self-driving vehicle, unmanned vehicle, highly automated vehicles, the list goes on!) 

While some production vehicles on the road today available to consumers introduce some form of automation, commonly reference to as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), (adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane departure assistance, and others), these are not autonomous vehicles. An engaged and fully present driver is required to perform all aspects of the driving task. These technologies do offer tremendous safety promise, as they can prevent or lessen the severity of a crash. CDOT is evaluating how roadway design (striping, pavement markings, and signs) can improve the performance of these driver assistance technologies. 

There are manufacturers and other companies that are interested in testing, deploying and researching vehicles that change the basic architecture of the vehicle or remove the human driver. Understanding innovations in technology and the recent focus on advancing highly automated vehicles limiting the need for a human, the State of Colorado has adopted legislative policy that provides definition to highly automated vehicles or driving systems. Vehicles meeting this definition must go through a process detailed in the Policy section of this page.

Policy

Senate Bill 17-213 authorized the use of highly autonomous driving systems in Colorado under certain conditions, which established Colorado as one of the most forward-leaning states in the country. The legislation established the following policy environment in order to support the continued advancement and deployment of Automated Driving Systems (ADS) in Colorado:

    1. Levels of automation 0-3 (SAE) are legal under Colorado law with a human driver in the vehicle.
    2. Defined “Automated Driving System”, or ADS, as Society of Automotive Engineers levels 4-5. Highly autonomous driving systems (Level 4-5), with or without a human driver, are authorized to operate in Colorado if they can meet all applicable state and federal laws.
    3. If the ADS cannot meet all state and federal laws, the Colorado Department of Transportation and Colorado State Patrol are responsible for approving their operation in the State.
    4. No State agency or local jurisdiction may set policy or regulations for an ADS that are different from the standards set for a human driver.

    Autonomous Mobility Task Force

    SB 17-213 designated the Colorado State Patrol and CDOT to oversee a process for approving the operation of an ADS that cannot meet any federal, state and local law. The process features submission of an entity's request to the Autonomous Mobility Task Force, which is a joint body between the Colorado State Patrol (CSP), Colorado Department of Revenue (DOR), and Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). 

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    The Autonomous Mobility Task Force is coordinated and led by CDOT, with meetings occurring on as needed basis. Interested applicants that would like to submit a request to the Task Force should contact Ashley Nylen for more information.

    CDOT Autonomous Truck Mounted Attenuator:

    Impact protection vehicles protect workers from vehicles. The autonomous truck mounted attenuator (ATMA), also known as an impact protection vehicle (AIPV) means there doesn’t have to be a driver at risk. It works through a leader/follower system and requires a specially outfitted leader vehicle to drive ahead, and the AIPV will follow the leader’s maneuvers. CDOT's testing and implementation of the ATMA is currently focused on striping operations.

    Autonomous Vehicle Resources:

    CDOT has several valuable resources covering the infrastructure assets that may support and supplement a connected and automated driving system. This includes statewide information on signage type and location, pavement markings, and as-build diagrams of the transportation system. This information can help to improve and enhance the mapping and programming of an automated driving system, thus improving vehicle control.

    If you or your jurisdiction has questions regarding the deployment of connected and autonomous technologies, please contact Ashley Nylen for more information.

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