Transportation and technology concept. ITS (Intelligent Transport Systems). Mobility as a service.

Automated and Electric Vehicles

Enabling safe and energy-efficient automation in adverse weather

Automated and Electric Vehicles (AEVs) hold the promise of increased traffic safety and mobility through decreased accidents (over 90% of which are caused by human error in the US) and reduced emissions. However, in adverse weather conditions such as winter storms and fog, the vehicle:

  • Loses its ability to navigate as pavement markings have been covered up by snow, ice, rain shine, or fog
  • Experiences a degradation of over 15% of its camera, lidar, and radar sensors in precipitation
  • Faces a reduction of up to 50% of object detection in fog
  • Undergoes a linear loss of travel range in cold conditions due to the battery

With approximately 40,000 deaths on US roads every year, the AEV’s estimated 90% reduction in fatalities would result in 36,000 lives saved every year. Alongside automation, electrification of vehicles could vastly improve air pollution and human impacts on the climate, as evidenced by the over 70% drop in pollution in New Delhi during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns.

RAL works at the forefront of development alongside academic, public, and private sector partners to address weather’s impact on the safe and efficient navigation of the AEV. RAL scientists are:

  • Observing weather at the vehicle through onboard sensors
  • Assessing infrastructure vs. onboard observations to aid in computational offloading to infrastructure
  • Analyzing the vehicle’s performance in various weather regimes to determine Operational Design Domains (ODDs)
  • Bringing together decision-makers on policy through venues such as the American Meteorological Society (AMS) Washington Forum and AMS Intelligent Transportation Systems/Surface Transportation committee

Partners and Sponsors:

  • Department of Energy
  • Western Michigan University
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • National Science Foundation
  • Revision Autonomy

Representative Projects

  • Infrastructure Enabled Energy Efficient Autonomous Vehicles Project


Amanda Anderson

Associate Scientist IV


Curtis Walker

Proj Scientist I