While most autonomous vehicle services offered by car manufacturing companies may not require any DOT support, some services can be enhanced if DOTs modify their policies, share data or build infrastructure differently, Motiani says.

"Fully autonomous vehicles can communicate between each other as they are travelling on an arterial roadway," Motiani says. "It would be helpful if the vehicle received signal timing information from the jurisdictional authority in order to adjust their speeds to achieve optimal flow. In the reverse, DOTs may benefit from getting quick and accurate information on a pothole or an icy patch when a vehicle goes over it."

Faced with increasing budgetary challenges, DOTs are looking for ways to utilize the mobile and location-based data collected by private companies, hoping to find efficiencies to better manage projects and existing infrastructure and respond to incidents.

"All of this information is being collected by the private sector in a sophisticated manner that state DOTs will never match," Hunt says. "DOTs need to partner with private traffic data companies to aggregate all this big data to figure out where to spend their dollars."

The center began as a partnership of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the Institute of Transportation Engineers and the Intelligent Transportation Society of America, with support from the Federal Highway Administration. While the center will focus on state DOTs, the resources will serve the larger transportation community.

With the increasing use of public-private partnerships for bridge and roadway projects, DOTs will be looking for private contractors to be educated in the emerging technologies and issues. The center plans to offer training resources to help contractors and their subcontractors get up to speed.