July 22, 2014 11:05 AM, EDT
Va. Tech Awarded $55 Million to Study Truck Safety, Autonomous Vehicles
Virginia Tech Transportation Institute

The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute received $55 million in federal contracts to study safety efforts for commercial truck drivers and automated vehicles.

The institute is being awarded $30 million by the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration to study driver performance, including fatigue and distraction.

The research will include unobtrusively recording drivers with multiple cameras inside and outside the vehicle to see how the driver interacts with the vehicle and the road.

“The institute has conducted several important studies for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that have helped shape transportation policy in the U.S. and worldwide, and we are excited for the opportunity to continue our relationship with the agency through this new award,” Richard Hanowski, director of the institute’s Center for Truck and Bus Safety, said in a statement.

The school also was awarded $25 million from the national Highway Traffic Safety Administration to study automated vehicle technology.

The new Center for Automated Vehicle Systems will study electronic controls of the vehicle, identify potential safety issues and look for ways to block possible hacking of vehicles.

“We are going to take a wide-view approach at looking at the different sub-systems inside the vehicle, and we’re going to look at the human interactions with the vehicle, as well as the several key reliability aspects,” said Myra Blanco, head of the new automated vehicle center.