Skip to main content

35 years & counting

Person signing a document


VTTI, then called the University Center for Transportation Research (CTR), is established in response to the U.S. Department of Transportation University Transportation Centers Program as part of a Penn State team and in cooperation with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).

Aerial view of a highway


Discussions begin to build a “smart road” alongside a proposed highway between Blacksburg and Roanoke. Roanoke County officials believe the road will prompt companies interested in developing and testing technologies to establish businesses in the area.

Construction of the original Smart Road


The Virginia Smart Road is included in Virginia's six-year transportation plan. The road is described as an “electronically monitored highway of the future.”

Blueprints for the Smart Road bridge


The House Committee on Public Works and Transportation approves a $10 million request for the construction of a “smart road” between Blacksburg and Roanoke.

Construction of the Smart Roads bridge


Support for the “smart road” continues as the General Motors Foundation agrees to give Virginia Tech $250,000 during the next five years for students to study smart highway systems.

Tractor trailer on a highway


VTTI continues to advance its research and education mission with research projects focusing on truck safety, passenger information systems, adaptive cruise control, incident detection and management, and a traffic diversion deployment system.

Connected vehicles


Virginia Tech is part of a consortium headed by General Motors and awarded a $150 million federal grant to develop a prototype for the high-tech roads of the future.

Smart Roads bridge construction


Preliminary designs for the Smart Road are unveiled by VDOT.

Tom Dingus


Thomas A. Dingus is named director of CTR, which was designated that year as one of three Federal Highway Administration/Federal Transit Administration Intelligent Transportation Systems Research Centers of Excellence.

People during groundbreaking ceremony


Groundbreaking occurs for the first 1.7-mile part of the Smart Road.

Smart Roads bridge from below


The New Century Council identifies the Smart Road as “the single most important capital project in the region” and transportation technology as “the keystone for economic development efforts in the next century.”

Tractor trailer


VTTI researchers lead a naturalistic driving study that ultimately informs the 2003 Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration hours-of-service rule that provides a special exemption for local short-haul operators.

Smart Roads opening ceremony


The Center for Transportation Research officially becomes VTTI. On March 23, the Smart Road officially opens in co-sponsorship with VDOT.

Smart Roads dedication ceremony


The Smart Road is dedicated on May 30, and VTTI researchers begin instrumenting Blacksburg to monitor traffic flow, traffic safety, noise, and air pollution.

Data acquisition system


VTTI begins to conduct the 100-Car Naturalistic Driving Study, the first instrumented vehicle study ever undertaken with the primary purpose of collecting large amounts of driving data under real-world conditions, using a data collection system developed in-house.

Teen driver texting


The National Institutes of Health sponsors a teen driving study conducted on the Smart Road. VTTI researchers observe that teens engage longer with cell phones and lack situational awareness as compared to experienced adult drivers. As a result, researchers suggest that driver education curricula be revised and cell phones be discouraged or outlawed.

Drawing of main VTTI building


VTTI develops a master plan for its transportation research complex and begins the design work on a new 21,000-square-foot building.

Smart Roads intersection


VTTI is designated as a Center for Excellence in the 2005 Safe, Accountable, Flexible Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) transportation bill.

Tom Dingus and Sen. John Warner


The National Surface Transportation Safety Center for Excellence is formally awarded to VTTI through the Federal Highway Administration. Sen. John Warner attends the dedication.

next generation data acquisition system


After being named the prime contractor for the planning phase of the 2,500-Car Naturalistic Driving Study, which will total $30 million in funding, VTTI refines its next-generation data acquisition system to collect real-world driving information.



Because of the large amounts of data processed on-site for such naturalistic driving studies as the 100-Car Study and the anticipated results from the 2,500-Car Study, VTTI is poised to become the largest repository for naturalistic driving data.

Warren Hardy with a crash test dummy


The VTTI Center for Injury Biomechanics opens the crash sled laboratory, which is used to study transportation-related trauma and helps researchers better understand the mechanisms of injuries.



VTTI has become the leading expert in the collection of real-world transportation data. To expand collection capabilities, VTTI engineers begin work on developing a miniaturized version of its data acquisition system (DAS): the MiniDAS.

Tire-testing machine


The Global Center for Automotive Performance Simulation (GCAPS) is launched with $2 million in equipment expenditures towards a state-of-the-art tire development and testing system to be located in the Virginia International Raceway Motorsports Technology Park in Alton, Va.



The newest iteration of the VTTI-developed DAS is unveiled: the MiniDAS. This version expands the capabilities of VTTI data collection to include motorcycles and support onboard monitoring and driver feedback for both traditional and non-traditional vehicles.

Tom Dingus


VTTI spearheads the opening of the Virginia Connected Test Bed in Fairfax, Va., and GCAPS officially begins operations.

Virginia Connected Corridors


VTTI partners with VDOT to establish the Virginia Connected Corridors (VCC) connected vehicle test bed.

Accelerated pavement testing machine


In partnership with VDOT, VTTI unveils the Virginia Accelerated Pavement Testing program, which has enabled researchers to more quickly determine how different pavement designs and new materials respond to load testing before putting them on the road.

Vehicles on the Smart Roads


VTTI is selected to lead a U.S. Department of Transportation National University Transportation Center focused on four key themes surrounding the potential of disruptive technologies to improve transportation safety.



VTTI launches the Automated Mobility Partnership program, which brings industry leaders together to promote the development of tools, techniques, and data resources to support the rapid advancement of automated driving systems.

Students working with a remote control vehicle


VTTI launches the InternHUB program, which provides Virginia Tech students with the opportunity to work alongside leading automakers on projects that address the industry's most pressing transportation challenges.

Vehicles on Smart Roads bridge


VTTI receives two U.S. Department of Transportation grants totaling $15 million to advance research on the safe integration of automation into U.S. roadways.

Rural Roadway expansion


In partnership with VDOT, VTTI completes the final of four major enhancements to Virginia Smart Roads: 1) the surface street facility, 2) the Automation Hub, 3) the live roadway connector, and 4) the rural roadway facility.

Zac Doerzaph


VTTI ushers in a new era with Zac Doerzaph named as executive director. Doerzaph follows in the footsteps of Tom Dingus, who served as VTTI's director for 25 years.


VTTI enters its 35th year of dedication to transportation safety and mobility.

Evolution of the VTTI Logo


CTR logo 1988


VTTI logo 2000


VTTI logo 2005


VTTI logo 2006


VTTI logo 2012


VTTI logo 2018


VTTI logo 2020


VTTI logo 2023

Did You Know?

magnifying glass with graph inside icon

VTTI has an annual research portfolio of over $30 million.

graduation cap icon

VTTI supports approximately 100 Virginia Tech undergraduate and graduate students each year.

clock icon

Research time on the Virginia Smart Roads has exceeded 37,000 hours.

people icon

VTTI consists of 350+ employees who are dedicating their lives to saving lives.

calendar icon

VTTI houses 1,030 years of video data from naturalistic driving studies.

open book icon

VTTI researchers produce more than 200 publications and reports each year.