Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Connected and Automated Vehicles

CAV Challenge request for proposals

The Minnesota CAV Challenge is a new, innovative request for proposals that seeks to advance emerging technologies to improve transportation for all Minnesotans.

Connected and Automated Vehicle (CAV) technology is advancing rapidly. CAVs can save lives and provide better access to transportation, jobs and health care, making communities safer, and more equitable. To harness these rapidly-evolving technologies to solve transportation challenges, an innovative and flexible approach to working with industry and communities was created. 

The CAV Challenge is a new, open and rolling procurement process that fosters innovation. Public and private entities can propose CAV solutions to improve safety, efficiency, equity, outreach and mobility. The CAV Challenge positions Minnesota as a destination for CAV and innovation.

Why Minnesota?

Minnesota is the first state to create this new and innovative approach to advance CAV. With strong commitment from state leaders, $2.5 million is invested each year to seek innovative ideas to test and deploy new and emerging CAV technologies. MnDOT is excited to welcome partners to Minnesota to leverage opportunities, including:

  • Winter weather: Help industry solve winter weather challenges thru testing at its MnROAD facility.
  • CAV support and expertise: MnDOT’s CAV Office (CAV-X) is one of the country’s leading teams dedicated to CAV policy, planning, and engineering.
  • Dedicated funding: MnDOT has dedicated significant funding towards advancing mobility solutions through CAV.
  • Innovation: Minnesota is open to trying new ideas.
  • Testing experience: MnDOT has experiencing testing CAV and other technologies.
  • Connected Corridors: Minnesota has one of the most advanced connected vehicle corridors in the country. MnDOT seeks partnerships with industry to use this corridor and develop other urban and rural applications.
  • George Cronin award for procurement excellenceLeadership: Minnesota has strong support from its Governor’s Advisory Council on CAV, state agencies, CAV-X office, private industry, and stakeholders to advance CAV to improve safety.
  • National leader – This program earned the “3rd most innovative procurement” from the National Cronin Awards for contract excellence, and is now being adopted in other states.

MnDOT’s team of experts works with proposers to develop ideas that benefit not only Minnesota, but all states as we prepare for a connected and automated future.

Submit Your Idea – How the Process Works

You can request a Stage I meeting to discuss your idea with MnDOT. CAV-X staff and technical experts will ask questions to ensure ideas align with state goals, benefit the public and fill national research gaps. Meetings can be held in person, by phone, or online. Meetings are confidential. A Stage I meeting is not required to submit a proposal, but is encouraged to allow you to ask questions and clarify your idea.

Stage II proposals can be submitted any time throughout the year. MnDOT reviews proposals quarterly, and projects are awarded based on how it aligns with state and national goals and available funding. For more information on how to submit a proposal and the CAV Challenge program, review the CAV Challenge RFP (PDF).

Proposals are reviewed in 3 phases. First, technical experts review and provide panel to the review team. Second, the review team discusses the ideas to determine if they met the proposal requirements. The review team includes a district engineer, the CAV-X office director, and the CAV program manager. The review team then recommends successful proposals to MnDOT’s senior and executive leadership. Third, MnDOT’s Assistant Commissioner of Operations and Deputy Commissioner and Chief Engineer consult with the CAV-X office director for final approval.

Unsuccessful proposers can meet with reviewers to understand how to improve concepts.

Why the CAV Challenge?

Recognizing that private industry is rapidly advancing technology, Minnesota knows it is critical to partner with public and private entities to improve transportation. Help us influence transportation innovation through MnDOT’s CAV Challenge by:

  • Ensuring that these technologies work in winter climates and meet the needs of all communities
  • Leveraging public-private partnerships to advance transportation opportunities using CAV
  • Preparing Minnesota’s infrastructure, policy and workforce for CAV
  • Helping the public to better understand the benefits and limitations of CAV technology by creating opportunities to provide feedback and experience the technology first-hand
  • Accelerating implementation of CAV technology in Minnesota
  • Gaining institutional knowledge
  • Filling in research gaps that other states or organizations aren’t working on
  • Showing the direct public benefit of emerging transportation technologies

Current CAV Challenge projects

image of a automated shuttle busMnDOT has met with over 52 vendors, reviewed 28 proposals and awarded 8 projects. More projects are currently in scoping and development phases and will be announced soon. MnDOT continues to hear ideas from vendors around the world.
Projects currently underway include:

  • Community Driven CAV (PDF): MnDOT is conducting a study in the Creative Enterprise Zone (CEZ) in Saint Paul that will create a community-led vision for connected and automated (CAV) technology and identify potential demonstration projects to solve community challenges to test at a later time.
  • Rochester Automated Shuttle Service Pilot (PDF): MnDOT will operate a low speed, highly automated shuttle for 12 months near the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Partners include First Transit, Easy Mile, May Clinic, Destination Medical Center and the City of Rochester.
  • Automated Bus Consortium: A dozen states and public organizations are coordinating to jointly procure and deploy Level 4 automated full-size buses across the country. To learn more about the Automated Bus Consortium visit automatedbusconsortium.com
  • Autonomous Truck Mounted Attenuator (PDF): MnDOT is testing automated truck-mounted attenuators – known as a “crash cushions” – to increase safety for roadside workers and motorists and increase efficiency. Partners include Kratos Defense and Security Solutions, Royal Truck and Equipment, maintenance professionals and other state DOTs.
  • Statewide CAV Strategic Communications and Engagement Plan: The Governor’s Advisory Council is prioritizing engagement and outreach to Minnesotans to understand how Minnesota should plan and prepare for CAV technologies. Consultants HDR and WSB proposed ideas to develop a strategic framework to engage stakeholders. This plan will help CAV-X create a strong foundation for CAV by building relationships, identifying and addressing concerns, as well as recognizing and integrating diverse ideas. Partners include HDR, PolicyGrounds, New Publica and WSB.
  • Smart Snelling: MnDOT is testing out snow plow priority on traffic signals to make plowing easier, more efficient and safer. This project will also coordinate with cyclists, pedestrian and other road users to test connected vehicle technologies to notify vehicles when these road users are nearby. Partners include Traffic Control Corporation, Applied Intelligence, Ideate Consulting, Ramsey County, and traffic safety and active transportation stakeholders.