Fort Worth Secures $2 Million Grant for Autonomous Freight Truck Weather Sensor Testing

The City of Fort Worth, TX – in partnership with North Central Texas Council of Governments – was recently awarded $2 million to test weather sensors on autonomous freight truck routes. The new network of detectors is expected to quickly provide precise data on road conditions to the city’s growing fleet of self-driving semi trailers (AVs).

Accurate weather transmission is of particular concern to the City. In the winter of 2021, a vehicle pileup occurred due to treacherous icy conditions, particularly black ice. This incident involved 130 vehicles, including cars, trucks and 18-wheelers; six lives were lost, and numerous others were injured. Many of the 18-wheelers involved were fully loaded and headed to a truck depot near an airfield for regional distribution. It’s thought that the disaster could have been avoidable if the appropriate weather sensors had been in place to warn drivers of the impending danger.

“Weather phenomena like severe rainfall and dense fog can degrade the accuracy of critical vehicle sensors, potentially leading to inaccuracies affecting vehicle performance during hazardous road weather conditions,” the city stated in a press release.

The program will be installed at a regional trucking hub attached to an airfield. The microclimate sensors are designed to provide precise, real-time localized weather data, enabling AVs to adapt to varying weather conditions and make informed decisions to enhance operational safety and reliability. 

The award from The US Department of Transportation is a part of the agency’s Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation grants program (SMART),  which is designed to modernize transportation across the country.