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Automated and Connected Vehicles

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Smart and Connected Automated and Connected Vehicles LogoNevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) is leveraging emerging technologies such as Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAV) to ensure the best investments are made for the mobility and safety of its residents—keeping all of Nevada Safe and Connected.

What is a Connected and Automated Vehicle (CAV)? Are Connected Vehicles (CVs) and Automated Vehicles (AVs) Different?

Autonomous and Connected Vehicle Explanation

Automated Vehicles (AVs) use information from radar, laser light, Global Positioning System (GPS), odometry, and computer vision to detect their surroundings. The vehicles can “sense” the road and everything around them. These vehicles operate in isolation from other vehicles.

Connected Vehicles (CVs) communicate and share vital transportation information to other vehicles, roads and infrastructure. Communications systems provide a 360-degree awareness of nearby vehicles—connecting the vehicle to its surroundings. These vehicles are not automated.

A Connected and Automated Vehicle (CAV) leverages a combination of on-vehicle sensors and connectivity with other vehicles and infrastructure.

Nevada is a Pioneer for Bringing Innovation to Reality

Nevada became the first state in the US to implement regulations to encourage CAV technology growth—establishing Nevada as a national leader in testing, licensing, and regulating autonomous and connected vehicles on states’ roads.  In addition to this cutting-edge leadership, all government entities within the state (governor, state, county, city) are completely united to work together to continue to lead the nation in the testing of CAV technology. Nevada understands policy, partnerships, collaboration, and innovation.

Automated and Connected Vehicle Informational GraphicWhat are the Benefits of CAV Technology?

  • Improve Public Safety: Fewer conflicts and crashes will lead to improved passenger and pedestrian safety.
  • Alter the Need for Future Long-term Capacity Projects: Self-driving cars may reduce the need for building future road capacity projects
  • Reliable Travel Time The ability to constantly monitor traffic will substantially reduce uncertainty in travel times via real-time, predictive assessment of travel times on all routes
  • Improved Mobility for the Elderly, Disabled and Youth: Driverless vehicles could be the conduit to provide needed transportation to those who currently have difficulties with mobility
  • Improved Energy Efficiency: Reduced energy consumption in at least three ways: more efficient driving; lighter, more fuel-efficient vehicles; and reduced carbon emissions
  • New Models for Vehicle Ownership: Self-driving vehicles could lead to a major redefinition of vehicle ownership and expand opportunities for vehicle sharing
  • New Business Models and Scenarios: CAV technology will blur the lines between public and private industries, creating an emphasis on collaboration and Nevada’s unified mission of showcasing transportation innovation bringing new jobs and:
  • ENABLE new business to come to Nevada
  • EMPOWER appropriate regulations
  • ENTICE community benefits creating a safe system for all users

Smart and Connected Nevada Projects

As CAV initiatives are prioritized by a growing number of agencies, smart and connected projects in Nevada are quickly emerging. A growing list of projects which NDOT is collaborating with other partner agencies include:

University of Nevada, Reno Intelligent MobilityNorthern Nevada Intelligent Mobility Living Lab: NDOT is collaborating with Northern Nevada Intelligent Mobility Living Lab as they begin to investigate and learn how to use “big data” to contribute to new ideas, technology, and systems. Fraunhofer, a world-renowned research institute from Germany, is involved in this research initiative. For the initial effort, UNR researchers are using RTC-Washoe state-of-the-art electric buses that are fully instrumented with several systems to sense, gather and integrate a range of data.  Researchers and partners will test, develop and refine technologies aimed at making transportation more efficient, sustainable and safe.

WayCare: WayCare has developed a predictive analytics platform to harnesses vast amounts of in-vehicle data combined with municipal and state traffic data to optimize emergency services response and to enable proactive allocation of resources. Because the platform is a cloud-based solution, for the first time, all agencies participating in the program can communicate seamlessly with one another through the platform – this has proven to be instrumental in improving the quality of our service to traffic incidents. NDOT, alongside RTC and NHP, are working with WayCare to improve traffic safety and reduce traffic crashes and congestion in Nevada.

Audi Countdown to Green Graphic - Cars Connected to Traffic SignalsAudi Countdown to Green: Las Vegas became the first region to connect its traffic signal network to vehicles when Audi launched its Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) technology. This launch is the first step in connecting vehicles to intelligent traffic signal infrastructure and is the first step for an autonomous future. The two-way communication with traffic lights and traffic cameras will help identify better routes and traffic incidents on valley roadways. Several models in Audi’s 2017 lineup were equipped with the Time-to-Green feature, a cloud-connected countdown timer for red lights, displayed on the instrument panel and heads-up display. Basically, it alerts the driver of how fast he or she needs to drive to continue to get a green light or what their anticipated wait time at the red light would be. This type of connection to NDOT’s traffic signal network provides NDOT’s traffic management center with real-time anonymous traffic signal timing data to improve mobility and better manage congestion on crowded roadways.

Nexar: Working with the innovative mobility and safety startup, Nexar, Nevada is the first statewide launch of Nexar’s vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) network through its smart-phone app that provides drivers with real-time alerts to prevent vehicle, cyclist, and pedestrian collisions. The app records video outside of a vehicle and measures vehicle dynamics related to speed, braking, and turns. Warnings from adjacent vehicles are communicated to drivers by way of the app.

Nevada will launch the “Nexar Safest Driver Competition” to support NDOT’s Zero Fatalities goal of eliminating fatalities on Nevada roadways. This is an app-based safe driving competition that scores participants’ driving. Through the Safe Driving competition, NDOT will use technology to both encourage safe driving and harvest big data that will help continue innovation in Nevada.

Mount Rose NDOT Snow Plow

Integrating Mobile Observations Project Connected Snowplows: In a phased partnership between US DOT, NDOT, UNR and the National Center for Atmospheric Research, NDOT tested various communications methods connected to snowplows in the Lake Tahoe Region and Valley between Reno and Carson City to help manage the transportation system ahead of and during adverse weather events.

A Hybrid Communications Platform was developed where vehicles communicate with each other and roadside units via DSRC (short range communication devices) and/or cellular back to the Nevada Data Exchange using a standard developed with the Traffic Management Data Dictionary. During heavy snow conditions, these plows are deployed to conduct normal snow removal operations. During these operations, the plows would collect and analyze data from Nevada’s RWIS and other data sources to maintain plow safety, and provide information to motorists through DMS, traffic apps, and vehicle heads-up displays. A web interface incorporates real-time local, national, and mobile weather data and makes recommendations about roadway treatments and timing. 

WAZE: WAZE has implemented a new traffic light reporting feature on their app that NDOT is reviewing for effectiveness. WAZE has created an automated process to receive and send notices to NDOT traffic experts. On average, 10 notifications per week are received. The NDOT team is evaluating data received from WAZE and comparing it to data they receive from signal detection alerts, performance data and the FAST issues log. This information will be used to strategize how to make the WAZE data as useful as possible to the public and to quantify benefits of the program.


Nevada agencies have partnered and are actively involved in the promotion of CAV initiatives. Each of these agencies bring a unique perspective based on their respective roles within Nevada. Representatives from each of these agencies have been involved in discussions related to CAV activities and moving forward, and each will play a pivotal role in leading and supporting the key functional activities needed to further CAV initiatives.

NDOT has been at the forefront of establishing policies and coordinating with state and federal legislators to develop and deploy CAV test policies. NDOT has also been coordinating with other state transportation departments and national transportation agencies to bring best practices to Nevada. Here are a few other agencies leading the way:

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long will it take before I see these cars in my dealership? The automotive industry as well as equipment suppliers have indicated that they will have vehicles ready for full automation within the next 3 years.
  • How much will this technology increase the cost of a new car? Based on preliminary information, the industry estimates the Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V) equipment and supporting communications functions (including a security management system) for an autonomous vehicle would cost approximately an additional $341 to $350 per vehicle in 2020. These costs would also include an additional $9 to $18 per year in fuel costs due to added vehicle weight from the V2V system.
  • Will connected vehicles help pedestrians? Absolutely. Connected vehicles will provide benefits that extend beyond drivers to include pedestrians as well as travelers using public transportation.
  • Will connected vehicles help me to avoid traffic and get me where I need to be on time? YES! Connected vehicles promise to provide benefits in improved mobility and efficiency of our nation’s transportation system.
  • Why is NDOT supporting CAV Programs? Vehicles that can partially or completely drive on their own are becoming a reality—in Nevada and all over the world. This is anticipated to provide significant potential for safety, convenience, accessibility, and quality of life benefits.  Auto manufacturers’ production pace of Connected and Automated Vehicles is rapidly increasing, making now the time to plan strategies and look at new possibilities and opportunities for transforming transportation in Nevada to accommodate this emerging technology.


Transportation Futurist, Kandee Bahr Worley                                                                                                                    Telephone: 755-888-7323                                                                                                                                                  Email Address:                                                                                                   

NDOT Deputy Director - Southern Nevada, Tracy Larkin-Thomason
Telephone: 702-385-6500
Email Address: