The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) have joined to form the Smart Belt Coalition and will be collaborating with transportation agencies in Ohio and Michigan to focus on automated and connected vehicle initiatives.

The new coalition includes transportation and academic partners, who will support, research, test, and provide funding, as well as share data and provide unique opportunities for private-sector testers.

PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards said: "I'm excited for us to continue our efforts in fostering safe and effective development of this technology.

"The coalition will focus on connected and automated applications in work zones, and commercial freight opportunities in testing."

"This multi-state partnership not only offers fantastic collaboration opportunities, but will also bring some consistency to testing scenarios that will help the private sector as they develop these technologies."

The new coalition participating agencies and universities include PennDOT, PTC and Carnegie Mellon University from Pennsylvania, and Michigan Department of Transportation and University of Michigan as well as Ohio Department of Transportation, Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission, The Ohio State University and Transportation Research Center.

PTC CEO Mark Compton said: "This new coalition recognises that automated and connected vehicle initiatives transcend state boundaries and spur emerging technologies.

"Working together, we will be able to more effectively advance these emerging technologies for all motorists."

Initially, the coalition will focus on connected and automated applications in work zones, and commercial freight opportunities in testing, including platooning and potential coordination on interstates.

It will also focus on incident management applications to provide better information to and infrastructure for emergency responders and other agencies.

Going forward, the coalition will finalise a strategic plan outlining the framework for participants and opportunities for private-sector testers.