Research & Innovation

Autonomous Technologies Will Change Transportation System and Society, Says Stevens Professor

Stevens now part of one of the largest autonomous vehicle research contracts with the Federal Highway Administration

Autonomous vehicles on roadway

“Connected and autonomous vehicle technologies have the potential to significantly change surface transportation as we know it today,” says Dr. Yeganeh Hayeri, assistant professor at the Stevens School of Systems and Enterprises (SSE). She explains that externalities associated with driving including crashes, traffic congestion, air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption may significantly diminish as connected and autonomous vehicle technologies are introduced.

Hayeri, who develops models to study the impact of the technology on various systems, adds that other areas will be impacted as well. “Given that transportation system is the backbone of our society, the higher levels of the autonomous technologies will impact our economy, law enforcement, public health and even our real estate market,” she says.

“The challenge right now is that this is such new technology, that we don’t have a lot of data to determine short-term and long-term impacts,” she notes.

Dr. Yeganeh Hayeri
Professor Hayeri’s research focuses on transportation systems, connected and automated vehicles, and infrastructure, climate and energy security. 

But a new opportunity for autonomous vehicle research at Stevens can help change that.

“Stevens is now part of one of the largest contracts with the FHWA’s Office of Operations Research and Development and Saxton Laboratory,” announces Hayeri, who recently collaborated in the development of a winning proposal as part of a team assembled by Leidos, a national security, health and infrastructure solutions company. The Leidos team was awarded a five-year $75 million fixed-price task order contract by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) as a result.

Major emphasis for this contract includes Level 1 automation and connected vehicle research, which aligns with Dr. Hayeri’s research focus areas. Projects supported by FHWA typically aim at advancing the field while promoting collaboration which could be a key element for those institutions that have been less active in this field, according to Hayeri.

The FHWA contract enables Stevens get a foothold in the transportation sector. “With this task order contract, which means that for each task order FHWA announces as part of this contract, Stevens will have the opportunity to evaluate resources and put a team together to participate,” she explains.

Her goal is to identify available resources and interested researchers at Stevens to help strengthen Stevens’ portfolio in the area of transportation systems and to become a key player.

“I believe this research opportunity enables us to broaden our participation in the rapidly evolving transportation industry,” she says.

Professor Hayeri provides additional insights on how autonomous vehicle technology will change the U.S. transportation systems and society in her new blog article, “The Long Road to Fully Autonomous Vehicles.” Read more on the SSE Systems Perspectives blog: www.stevens.edu/systemsperspectives.