MRI 2: Technological Solutions for Connected, Safe, Reliable and Secure Transportation Services in Rural and Underserved Communities 

MRI 2 will examine the development of sensing, communication, and computing solutions and the use of connected vehicles and infrastructure in providing safer, more reliable transportation services for rural and underserved communities.  MRI 2 will also explore the development of autonomous micro-transit vehicles as effective and flexible solutions for providing mobility services in response to infrequent demand. It will also investigate challenges associated with EV adoption to achieve more sustainable and equitable transportation in rural areas.  

Project 2-1. Cost-effective and Reliable Data and Communication Infrastructure for Enhancing Rural Transportation Safety and Efficiency: This project improves roadway safety conditions and transportation efficiency on rural roads by leveraging enhanced network connectivity, integrated multi-source data, improved analytics, and secure, optimally built connected infrastructure. 

Project 2-2. A Data-Driven and Equitable Solution to Address Electric Vehicle Needs in Rural and Underserved Communities: This project addresses the lag in electric vehicle (EV) adoption in rural and underserved communities relative to urban areas. It will focus on overcoming the main barrier of range anxiety by developing a data-driven framework consisting of EV demand forecasting, charging network optimization, and routing strategies for public charging stations .  

Project 2-3. Developing Connected Micro-transit Vehicles for Equitable Mobility Service for Rural and Underserved Communities: This project develops technology-driven solutions for the development and deployment of microtransit transportation vehicles to address distributed and low-demand transportation needs in rural areas by providing more efficient, customer-focused autonomous transit services via flexible routing and scheduling while interacting with and integrating into other transportation modes.  

Project R2-4. Enhancing Automated Vehicle Operation and Safety on Rural Roads and Underserved Areas: Challenges and Innovative Solutions: Given the operational challenges of CAVs in such settings, the project will develop a CAV testing plan in rural settings utilizing a unique CAV-in-the-loop simulation setup to provide innovative solutions for addressing challenges, such as adverse weather conditions, complex terrain, hazard classification, and limited sensor range, to improve CAV performance on rural roads.