Transforming intersection safety through the development of innovative intersection safety systems that identify, predict, and mitigate unsafe conditions involving vehicles and vulnerable road users.
Note: For the complete official terms and conditions, please go to the Resources tab and download the “U.S. DOT Intersection Safety Challenge: Stage 1A (Concept Paper) Prize Competition Description for Participants” document.
Improving the safety of pedestrians, bicyclists, and other vulnerable road users is of critical importance to achieving the objectives of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) National Roadway Safety Strategy (NRSS) and DOT’s vision of zero fatalities and serious injuries across our transportation system. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 10,626 traffic fatalities occurred at roadway intersections in the United States in 2020, including 1,674 pedestrian and 355 bicyclist fatalities. These fatalities at intersections represent 27% of the total of 38,824 road traffic deaths recorded in 2020. Preliminary estimates for 2021 point to further increases, with pedestrian fatalities up 13% and pedalcyclist fatalities up 5% compared to 2020 (NHTSA, May 2022).
In response to these growing concerns and as part of DOT’s continued implementation of the NRSS, the DOT Intersection Safety Challenge (hereafter, “the Challenge”) aims to transform intersection safety by incentivizing the innovative application of new and emerging technologies to identify and mitigate unsafe conditions involving vehicles and vulnerable road users at intersections. The Challenge complements other Federal efforts to improve intersection safety, with the Challenge specifically focused on the use of technology. Further, the intersection environment itself is well-suited to innovative mitigative approaches leveraging, utilizing, and potentially repurposing existing traffic control and support infrastructure.
Of particular interest in addressing intersection safety is the development of systems that apply emerging capabilities enabled by advanced sensing, communications technologies, and artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). These include machine sensing and perception, data fusion, trajectory and path prediction, vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communications, and real-time decision-making. Technological advancements in these and other areas offer an opportunity to improve intersection safety at scale in new and effective ways. The Challenge encourages the formation of non-traditional teams combining expertise in emerging technologies with experience in traffic and safety engineering to develop new and potentially transformative intersection safety approaches.
The Challenge also aligns with equity-related DOT priorities set forth in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). Improving intersection safety is a foundational element in enhancing equity and accessibility in many communities. Safe and reliable transportation, including access to and use of various transportation modes in and around intersections, can be a powerful engine of opportunity, connecting people to jobs, education, and resources. The Challenge supports DOT’s equity priorities, as outlined in the U.S. DOT Strategic Plan for FY 2022-2026, the U.S. DOT Equity Action Plan, and the National Roadway Safety Strategy.
Overall, the Challenge aims to incentivize the development of new, cost-effective, real-time roadway Intersection Safety System (ISS) concepts. Further, to set the stage for future deployment nationwide, the potential safety benefits relative to the estimated costs of deploying new system concepts must be compelling enough to motivate equitable at-scale deployment across the nation.
The vision of the Challenge is to transform intersection safety through the development of one or more innovative intersection safety systems that identify, predict, and mitigate unsafe conditions involving vehicles and vulnerable road users in real-time.
The Challenge begins with a two-part prize competition:
Stage 1A: Concept Assessment — Participants submit an ISS Concept Paper (See Section VIII, How to Enter). Up to ten (10) well-formed, differentiable concepts scoring highest against a set of uniform judging criteria (see Section VI and VII, Rules and Judging, respectively) will receive a Challenge prize and may advance to the next part of the Stage 1 Prize Competition.
Stage 1B: System Assessment and Virtual Testing. Participants develop, train, and improve algorithms for the detection, localization, and classification of vulnerable road users and vehicles using DOT-supplied sensor data collected at a controlled test intersection. Further, participants will use these data and algorithms in real-time to predict future intersection conditions and identify potentially unsafe conditions and events. Entries will be scored using a rubric testing the accuracy of algorithms against observed ground truth conditions. DOT will provide information regarding the perception and prediction competition of Stage 1B after Stage 1A awards are made.