Connected and automated vehicles have the potential to significantly advance quality of life by providing better access to transportation, reducing crashes, creating jobs and advancing public health to making communities safer, more equitable and sustainable. That’s why Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) created the $5 million Minnesota CAV Challenge—to harness these rapidly evolving technologies by inviting industry, non-profits, businesses, and the public to propose CAV solutions that advance community safety, equity, accessibility, mobility and sustainability. The CAV Challenge is an open procurement process allowing partners to first workshop ideas with MnDOT and then submit proposals in a variety of areas, including work zone safety, automated fleets, autonomous shuttle pilots, traveler alert, connected vehicle technologies, equity and cold weather research.
Current pilot projects include an autonomous shuttle at the Rochester Mayo Clinic, autonomous maintenance vehicles, an autonomous 40-foot bus, a low-speed autonomous shuttle for seniors and low-income youth, as well as researching how LIDAR can “see” in the snow, developing a fiber optic public-private partnership, providing real-time traveler information, and using hands-free technology to protect first responders and emergency providers, among others. To date, MnDOT has held over 57 partnership meetings (which are confidential to protect proprietary ideas), met with over 100 organizations, received nearly 40 proposals and awarded 12 projects under the CAV Challenge. It otherwise would have taken nearly six years to develop these proposals at an estimated cost of $3-$5 million. This program provides innovative solutions that will ultimately improve safety and mobility while bringing new transportation technology solutions to the forefront.