Cooperative Automated Transportation

Cooperative Automated Transportation, including autonomous and connected vehicles, has the potential to improve safety and enhance livability for all our residents.

WSDOT envisions a future where automated, connected, electrified, and shared mobility contributes toward a safe and efficient transportation system that emphasizes public transit and active transportation and promotes livable (walkable/bikeable), economically vibrant communities with affordable housing and convenient access to jobs and other activity centers.

Image showing how connected vehicles can communicate with other vehicles and infrastructure and also identify pedestrians and biyclists in and around roadways. Also shows how automated vehicles may not need an operator.

  • Vehicles with connectivity are able to communicate automatically with other vehicles and infrastructure and also identify pedestriands and bicyclists in and around roadways.
  • Automated vehicles (also called autonomous or self-driving) do not require a driver to operate the vehicle or monitor roadway conditions. There are several levels of increasing automation.

Vehicle Automation Levels

What is WSDOT doing to prepare and plan for Cooperative Automated Transportation?

WSDOT’s Cooperative Automated Transportation program focuses on how new, semi-automated and automated capabilities can advance the state’s multimodal transportation system and enhance the communities we serve through a strategic CAT vision. Work includes:

  • Developing a CAT policy framework considering both community and regional transportation system needs.
  • Developing multimodal CAT goals to help determine agency investment priorities.
  • Creating opportunities for WSDOT partnerships with industry, local partners and others while staff also participates in various CAT forums, conferences and other venues.
  • Pursuing sustainable funding to support the agency’s CAT efforts.

WSDOT’s draft CAT Policy Framework is a working document that will be used in a variety of ways to guide decision making, policy development and CAT investment priorities.

CAT Policy Framework (pdf 361 kb)

To receive this document in an alternate format, contact Ted Bailey,, 360-705-7286.

Current activities

  • First/last mile connections – Supporting expansion of pilot programs (including Pierce Transit and King County Metro) to deliver first/last mile service to underserved areas.
  • Winter operations – Providing travelers real-time road and weather conditions by sharing connected vehicle data from snow plows and other systems.
  • Traffic signals – Testing how WSDOT’s signal systems can better communicate with vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians to improve intersection safety and overall traffic operations.
  • Active transportation – Investigating use of electric bikes and scooters for first/last mile connections.
  • Automated work zone vehicles – Testing how automated vehicles can improve safety by eliminating the need for a driver in some staging vehicles.

Future opportunities

  • Connecting people to transit Exploring automated shuttles and first/last mile connections to transit and rideshare companies.
  • Transit automation – Helping buses avoid blind spot crashes with pedestrians and bicyclists.
  • Signing and striping – Including CAT needs in current roadway improvements that benefit travelers now and also prepare the system for automated vehicle needs.
  • Driver assisted truck platooning – Studying potential for safety and efficiency benefits and reducing fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Small unmanned aerial systems – Exploring potential uses, including vegetation and stockpile management, surveys, inspections and training.
  • Multimodal connection hubs – Developing new infrastructure to support multimodal connections.
  • Traffic management – Studying how interaction between connected vehicles and infrastructure can help make traffic operations more efficient.

Testing in Washington state

While not regulated by WSDOT, the safe use of any Cooperative Automated Transportation vehicle is a priority for the state. Gov. Jay Inslee set parameters for safe operations and testing and his executive order requires:

  • Certification with the Department of Licensing
  • Proof of financial responsibility
  • Compliance with all laws and regulations
  • Equipment that can bring the vehicle to a safe condition in the event of system failure.
  • Further questions about testing or certification of autonomous vehicles can be sent to the Department of Licensing at 


Ted Bailey, P.E.
Cooperative Automated Transportation Program Manager

Daniela Bremmer
Cooperative Automated Transportation Development Manager