Infrastructure Perception and Control Laboratory

NREL's Infrastructure Perception and Control (IPC) lab applies advanced sensing and computation controls to the coordinated movement of vehicles on the road as well as people in large facilities.

The IPC lab builds upon the evolving role advanced sensing and computation controls play in connected and automated movement. The benefits of this approach range from increased safety and equity to reduced travel time and energy use for mobility across various realms.

Illustration showing a city scape at its center. A list of perception agents on the left (including lidar, radar, video processing, connected and automated vehicles, and connected vehicle data) feed into the center circle via wireless digital communications. A list of control applications on the right (including eco-approach/departure, signal optimization, safety affirmative signaling, curb optimization, and red-light-running dilemma zone) emanate from the center circle via a 3-D digital twin.
The IPC pipeline integrates sensed data from a variety of sources to develop advanced computational controls designed to improve the energy and time efficiency of mobility while increasing safety. Figure by Stan Young, NREL


The following examples highlight the breadth of work enabled by the lab’s capabilities:

  • Advanced traffic control at intersections, enabling traffic-signal optimization and subsequent energy efficiency benefits while increasing safety and overall system efficiency
  • Longitudinal light signals—think Christmas lights along lane lines, color coordinated and orchestrated to encourage drivers to self-organize and platoon to increase traffic and signal-timing efficiency
  • Automated valet service integrated with automated electric charging to boost system-level efficiencies
  • Advanced wayfinding and local positioning for navigating within large facilities, particularly as it impacts passengers who may need mobility assistance with moving around airports, for example
  • New tools and methods to better observe and understand human behavior and the adoption of emerging mobility technologies, particularly for underserved communities.

Equipment and Facilities

The lab hosts essential equipment as well as state-of-the-art visualization capabilities, modeling tools, and research expertise to support NREL’s pioneering IPC research. NREL is outfitting the lab with modern equipment—including traffic control cabinets, radar, light detection and ranging (LiDAR), and video imaging equipment—that can be configured to take on the road as researchers work with partners across the country.

The IPC Lab comprises three tiers enabling evaluation and development at progressive stages.

Tier One

Tier one features indoor lab space for concept exploration, development, and prototyping. World-class modeling and simulation capabilities can integrate with devices to create a hybrid virtual-reality experimental facility.

Aerial photo of solar panels and road atop a mesa with mountains in background.
Aerial view of test track and solar array at NREL’s South Table Mountain campus. Photo by Joshua Bauer and Bryan Bechtold, NREL

Tier Two

Tier two consists of closed test track and partner-specified protected roadways to provide safe vehicle- and infrastructure-in-the-loop evaluation environments.

Tier Three

Tier three has public roads with advanced sensors, selected via established collaborations with partnering cities.

Connecting the Tiers

The indoor lab space (tier one) will bridge to the test roads (tiers two and three) via digital-twin technologies featuring high-fidelity modeling; high-performance computing, simulations, and visualizations; large-volume data streaming and processing; and advanced controls and optimization techniques.


Contact us to explore IPC partnership opportunities.