Virginia Tech Transportation Institute is in the midst of a major expansion of its vehicle test track system in Blacksburg, Va., as it works to complete this fall a simulated rural road system covering 120 acres.
VTTI operates the Smart Road, a closed test-bed research facility built to Federal Highway Administration standards, with paved lanes, three bridges and roadside equipment for connected vehicle communications. Smart Road also offers lighting and weather system controls for testing in snow, fog and rain. The system includes 75 weather-making towers and a 500,000-gallon water tank that are part of a system that can produce up to 4 inches of artificial snow.
The rural portion will feature hilly and flat winding roads built to circa 1965 standards to reflect real rural roads, and feature natural foliage and terrain, intersections, and several bridges.
Last October, Smart Road completed a 0.9-mile expansion of its urban street section with roundabout/stop-controlled intersections, portable reconfigurable buildings and automation-compatible pavement markings.
Once the rural construction is done, Smart Road will have nearly tripled in size from 2.2 miles to 6.3 miles of testing facilities offering urban, rural and highway roads.
VTTI also is a partner with the Virginia Department of Transportation on the state’s Automated Corridors and Connected-Vehicle Test Bed near Washington, D.C., a 70-mile network of urban interstates and rural arterials used to test autonomous vehicles and connected-vehicle technology.