VTTI sees future of truck ADS

Although automated driving systems (ADS) for trucks promise increased safety, productivity, and efficiency, it is not clear how they should be integrated into fleet operations with conventional vehicles. Erin Mabry and Martin Walker, of VTTI, provide answers
December 7, 2021


The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) has assembled a team of experts in the fields of ADS, data collection, safety data analysis, data repositories, naturalistic driving, roadway infrastructure, statistical methods, and truck fleet operations to develop and demonstrate a pragmatic Fleet Concept of Operations, or CONOPS.

This CONOPS will provide the trucking industry with clear guidelines on how to safely implement —and benefit — from ADS-equipped trucks. Additionally, data from CONOPS real-world demonstrations will provide the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) with critical information to inform rulemaking regarding ADS-equipped trucks.

If the benefits of ADS are to be realised, the US trucking industry needs a rigorous, data-driven CONOPS. The CONOPS is a comprehensive document that describes ADS characteristics from the viewpoint of the truck fleets. It includes eight key sections: ADS Installation and Maintenance Guide for Fleets; ADS Inspection Procedures; Driver State Monitoring Technology and Protocol; Motor Carrier Guide to Insuring ADS-Equipped Trucks; Identification of ADS Safety Metrics/Variables; ADS Road Readiness Rating System; Data Security/Transfer Protocol; and Cybersecurity Best Practices.

For this effort, VTTI has partnered with Pronto, an ADS technology developer led by a pioneering team that has been at the forefront of the most important advances in the autonomous vehicle industry.

In addition to the CONOPS itself, the project includes a series of demonstrations that will touch a large segment of the continental US. We are hosting the first of a series of roadshows here at the  ITS America 2021 Annual Meeting.

Three hands-on ADS demonstrations (or roadshows) are being held here to allow end users, stakeholders, and the public to experience ADS technology on closed test tracks. The three different demonstrations will also be made of the real-world, practical integration of increasingly sophisticated ADS into road freight operations with live traffic. Demo #1 truck queuing in ports; SAE Level 4 cross-country trip from the west coast to the east coast (Demo #2); and Exit-to-exit scenarios (Demo #3)

The roadshow showcases an interactive and behind-the-scenes look at ADS-equipped truck cross-country corridor operations, as well as a port queuing demonstration highlighting the safe deployment of ADS technologies in port operations.

The VTTI and Pronto roadshow features interactive visualisations of a prototype truck ADS database and map created from data being collected during the ADS cross-country operations. There are presentations highlighting a “behind the scenes” look at the ADS cross-country operations, including preparation, planning, training, data inputs, and real-world applications.

Displays of real-time data streams collected from the ADS-equipped trucks during the cross-country operations will be shown and there will be an interactive live chat with a Pronto engineer who is monitoring the cross-country data collection from the ADS truck cab in real time.

The roadshow also features a slideshow, drawn from the port queuing demonstration, illustrating how ADS-equipped trucks can relieve major congestion points in daily port operations. There is also a safety operator testing Pronto’s ADS-equipped truck.

The VTTI and Pronto CONOPS roadshow demonstration is being held in the Indoor Demo Area situated in the exhibition hall. It will be held tomorrow, Thursday and Friday, from 11:00 – 17:00.


Pronto is a safe-driving autonomy company led by an unrivalled pioneering team that has been at the forefront of the most important advances in the autonomous vehicle industry.

The company was founded in 2018 and in that same year became the first, and still the only, company to successfully drive coast-to-coast in the United States without a single driver input.

Today, Pronto brings that same industry-leading technological innovation to products with real value to real customers.


As one of seven premier research institutes created by Virginia Tech to answer national challenges, VTTI is continually advancing transportation through innovation and has affected public policy on national and international levels.

VTTI has grown from 15 faculty, staff, and students to become the second largest university-level transportation institute in the US with approximately 300 employees. It has effected significant changes in public policies for driver, passenger, and pedestrian safety and is advancing the design of vehicles and infrastructure to increase safety and reduce environmental impacts.

In all endeavours, the VTTI community is charged with finding solutions to the greatest transportation challenges facing our world.

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