Research suggest top routes for automated trucks lie in Northern California and Florida

I-5 from the Canadian border to Northern California ranked as the top US route for initial deployment for Highly Automated Vehicles (HAVs)

Top 10 US corridors for commercial returns. Credit: INRIX

Research from the INRIX Automated Freight Corridor Assessment has identified several key routes where artificially-intelligent trucks could be deployed with the most ease and commercial viability. The study identified the following routes as the top five:

1.       Vancouver-Northern California (I-5)

2.       Jacksonville-Miami (I-95)

3.       Valdosta-Miami (I-75)

4.       Utah-Kansas (I-70)

5.       Georgia-Greensboro (I-80)

The study also identifies the following routes as the top 10 corridors for commercial returns:

1.       Jacksonville-Miami (I-95)

2.       Vancouver-Northern California (I-5)

3.       Valdosta-Miami (I-75)

4.       Eastern Ohio-Cleveland (I-80/I-90)

5.       Central Illinois-Chicago (I-80)

6.       Georgia-Greensboro (I-80)

7.       Northern Georgia (I-20)

8.       California-New Mexico (I-10)

9.       Utah-Kansas (I-70)

10.   Utah-Idaho (I-15/I-84)

Finding the right routes is likely to be effectively deploying and testing HAVs as these have the potential to clog roads, increase pollution and further divide mobility options. As noted in our 10 things we’ve been reading from the end of August, self-driving vehicles can often create tensions along the routes where they are operating.

The rankings are based on the premise that the commercial benefits of current HAV technology are best suited for trips of longer duration and those without challenging traffic conditions (speed changes, congestion, incidents). To identify these corridors, INRIX Research first analyzed and ranked US corridors that measure more than 100-miles with high freight volume and low congestion characteristics. The US has a number of routes that are solid candidates for HAV deployment due to the prevalence of high volume, low congestion corridors.

Despite its comparatively short length, I-95 (Jacksonville to Miami) ranked the best commercial corridor as a result of its very high freight volumes and low congestion levels. I-5, from the Canadian border to Northern California, scored second for initial autonomous truck deployment due to its low congestion rates, high freight volumes and overall length of the road.

Top five combined corridors for HAV deployment

The research believes that “The US holds exceptional promise for the deployment of HAV technology due to the high number of long-distance routes, increasing labour costs and positive progress towards a unified regulatory framework. The benefits that stand to be maximized (commercial versus safety) vary based on the corridors selected for initial operation.  Access to accurate volume, congestion and safety profiles are essential to this evaluation process.”

Based on INRIX research and analysis, the most ideal US corridor for initial deployment when normalizing freight volume, route length, congestion and incident rates is I-5 from the Canadian border to Northern California. This route scored the highest in the combined score due to its length and its high incident rate when compared to other low-congestion corridors. I-95, from Jacksonville to Miami, scored exceptionally well in terms of congestion, but its low incident prevented it from ranking first.

"Big data is an essential tool that should be used as the public and private sectors explore and deploy HAVs," said Avery Ash, head of autonomous mobility at INRIX. "Mobility data and analytics are more powerful when multiple layers – such as congestion, volume and incidents – are added into the equation. Using data-driven insights will allow commercial truck operators and road authorities to proactively leverage HAVs to solve key mobility and business challenges."

Top 10 corridors for safety improvements

In consideration of the public focus on prioritizing the safety benefits of HAVs, INRIX Research identified corridors with high incidence rates to show where HAV technology could have the most impact. The best fit US corridors were identified by finding 100-mile segments with the highest number of incidents (i.e. accidents, slowdowns, construction). By augmenting drivers' skills with HAV technology, the driving risks on these routes could be greatly mitigated.

Of the corridors analyzed, I-75 from Chattanooga to Atlanta ranked highest in terms of driver risk. The road's high freight volume, coupled with a high incident rate, differentiated it from other corridors that exhibited higher incidents per mile or overall volumes. I-45 between Houston and Dallas landed second in the safety rankings due to its exceptionally high incident rate – at least 10 percent higher than any other US corridor studied.

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