by AUVSI NEWS.
A groundbreaking ceremony officially launched the construction of SunTrax test facility, which is a long-term partnership between the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise and Florida Polytechnic University (Florida Poly) that is centrally located between Tampa and Orlando.
SunTrax includes a 2.25 mile oval track on a 400-acre site in the city of Auburndale, Florida that will be used for, among many things, testing connected and automated technology such as lane departure, and vehicle platooning. The oval track’s construction is scheduled to be complete in spring 2019.
In addition to the oval track, SunTrax will also feature an infield facility, which is being designed as a hub for connected and automated vehicle testing.
The facility will include a variety of features such as a simulated city center, suburban and rural roadways and interconnected signalized intersections. All of the features of the approximately 200-acre infield facility will be equipped to perform research, development and testing of data and security, vehicle safety and equipment certification.
With its construction scheduled to begin in fall 2018, the infield facility is being developed in partnership with Florida Poly, and this partnership will provide students with unique opportunities to participate in the research, development and testing of these new and continuously evolving technologies.
“The SunTrax partnership with Florida’s Turnpike is an exciting venture for Florida Polytechnic University and an unparalleled economic driver for the state of Florida,” says Dr. Randy K. Avent, President of Florida Poly.
“This joint facility for research, development and testing of advanced transportation concepts will greatly increase our opportunities for faculty research and industry partnerships. As a university founded in the practice of applied research, we look forward to these increased opportunities that SunTrax will bring to our faculty, students and the state of Florida as a whole.”
The focus of the initial phase of this project will be on the construction of an innovative toll testing facility that is expected to offer local and potentially national and international certification for tolling technologies.
The construction of the oval track has been “designed to support high-speed testing of toll technologies with multiple lanes and parallel tolled express lanes.” Also included in this phase of construction are vertical structures and other facilities to support the testing and development of toll systems, such as hardware and software used on tolled facilities.
This oval track will be especially important since Florida’s Turnpike processes more than 1.4 billion toll transactions annually—with more than four million daily SunPass customer transactions— on a statewide basis for FDOT and several regional and local toll agencies.