COLUMBUS, OHIO - For nearly a century, America's roads and infrastructure have been funded by a gasoline tax. Battelle scientists are conducting research to see if there's a more innovative way to amass the needed money by demonstrating the feasibility of a mileage-based user fee based on smart phone technology.
At the 18th World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems Oct. 16-20 in Orlando, Battelle staff will be demonstrating their system to interested public officials and representatives of private industry. Battelle's smart phone solution for measuring and assessing mileage-based user fees represents the leading edge of using today's technology in transportation. The Minnesota Road Fee Test (MRFT) is the most extensive road user fee demonstration currently underway in the United States. Not only will staff be showing how the Battelle system works - there also will be several presentations to describe the system design and provide early findings from the ongoing demonstration project.
The MRFT is an extensive demonstration project undertaken in parallel with other Connected Vehicle Programs. Battelle's efforts include designing, building, and testing three new proprietary software applications that combine safety and mobility applications from the Connected Vehicle world with a mileage-based user fee application from the road user pricing world.
The demonstration test consists of 500 volunteers primarily within Wright County, MN. Each volunteer will self-install a Samsung Galaxy S smart phone into their vehicle and operate the system for six months. As part of the test, each participant will be required to pay the miles-based fee accumulated during their testing period. Each volunteer also will be required to participate in an extensive evaluation that is designed to capture their experiences with the system, the system performance, and their concerns about any future system expansion.
There is much discussion about how to generate revenue to keep America's roads and bridges updated aside from the federal and state gas taxes. There are immense budget pressures on states and as cars become more fuel efficient or electric, there will less money for the roads. "Mileage-based user fees won't happen tomorrow, but at Battelle, we're at the forefront of researching major technological advances that may help raise the money that's necessary to keep up America's roads," said Ben Pierce, Research Leader in Battelle's National Security Global Business.