Illinois Autonomous and Connected Track completes conceptualization
AECOM has completed the conceptualization plan for the Illinois Autonomous and Connected Track, Illinois Center for Transportation’s proposed high-speed, multimodal test track in Rantoul, Ill.
The plan provides a roadmap for moving forward into the design and construction phases as well as initializes a cost estimate and schedule for I-ACT’s execution.
AECOM’s plan for the University of Illinois track includes a three-lane test track for high-speed, continuous testing of multimodal connected and autonomous transport such as freight trucks, cars and drones.
The track will contain simulated environments for research on urban, suburban and rural areas as well as all-weather conditions.
I-ACT’s facilities will include research and fleet maintenance buildings as well as an adjacent data center to house data storage and computing facilities.
A conceptual video of I-ACT’s facilities is available below from AECOM.
AECOM also performed a preliminary assessment of potential sites and conducted an environmental site assessment to assess potential risks.
The track will be located on and near the former Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul — a central location accessible to major national transportation hubs like Chicago and world-renowned research facilities.
Next, a schematic design of I-ACT’s various components will be developed before moving forward with construction, which is expected to take 12-15 months.
The I-ACT initiative will establish partnerships between government agencies, academic institutions, key industry members and nonprofit organizations.
These stakeholders will meet in early 2023 to discuss the conceptualization plan, and the I-ACT team will gather feedback and direction for the track’s design and its critical research areas.
Imad Al-Qadi, ICT director and UIUC Grainger Distinguished Chair in Engineering, is thrilled about I-ACT’s possibilities, which is poised to lead the rapidly evolving transportation industry through real-world development and testing of connected and autonomous multimodal transport.
“The transportation industry is rapidly evolving, as emerging technologies such as 5G communications, energy harvesting and electrification are transforming how we travel and move goods,” Al-Qadi said.
“I-ACT is poised to lead this transformation through real-world development and testing of smart, connected, autonomous and multimodal transport while improving mobility safety, efficiency, resilience and sustainability,” he added.
Studies focusing on developing and exploring research ideas for I-ACT are already underway.
The projects will engage disciplines and departments across the UIUC campus and other partners, develop cutting-edge research in mobility connectivity and autonomy, contribute to innovative ideas explored at ICT and help generate external funding to support I-ACT.
Selected projects are listed below, in alphabetical order:
- Application-network co-design for V2V sensor streaming
- Autonomous vehicle-based quantum communication network
- AVOps: Continuous integration and deployment infrastructure for rapid testing of autonomous transportation systems
- Development of embedded energy-harvesting modules in flexible pavements
- Enabling self-healing in flexible and rigid pavements via advanced micro-capsules
- eVTOL configuration understanding, development and design
- Feasibility study and conceptual design of a multi-hazard environmental test facility
- Impact of driverless trucks on national- and state-level trade and welfare
- Modeling and testing autonomous and shared multimodal mobility services for low-density rural areas
- Safe operation of connected vehicles in complex and unforeseen environments
- Safety test autonomous vehicles with augmented reality
- Sensing infrastructure for smart mobility — wireless continuous monitoring for I-ACT
ICT is also exploring electrification, drone-delivery, and autonomous and connected vehicles in Illinois Department of Transportation-sponsored projects.
The efforts range from preparing policy and design guidelines for mid-sized cities (R27-211), creating a blueprint for the future of mobility in Illinois (R27-228) to developing a plan to support electric vehicles in the state (R27-236).