Autopistas, a subsidiary of the Spanish concessionaire and infrastructure giant Abertis, is participating in the European INFRAMIX R&D project, which is preparing the future road infrastructure to facilitate the coexistence of conventional and autonomous vehicles.
The three-year European Union-funded INFRAMIX (Road INFRAstructure ready for MIXed vehicle traffic flows) project involves a comprehensive simulation phase, and the results obtained will be evaluated in real sections of toll roads in Spain and Austria.
Autopistas is leading the project in Spain, which focuses on three crucial traffic scenarios in terms of traffic efficiency and safety: dynamic lane allocation, work zones, and bottle necks. The pilot program developed by Autopistas will be held on a 12.4 mile-long (20km) section of the Mediterranean Corridor (AP-7 toll road) near Girona, Spain.
Cutting-edge detection and G5 communication technologies will be implemented at the test site to demonstrate the three cases defined in the project. As part of the project’s ambition to maximize safety, Autopistas will also lead the definition of new types of signals and other physical elements to help the coexistence of conventional and autonomous vehicles, and will contribute to the establishment of new safety protocols for the program’s demonstrators.
Almost all the current initiatives for autonomous driving focus primarily on vehicles or drivers. This project, however, is addressed to find solutions for the design, update, adaption and testing both in simulations and real-world trials of the physical and digital elements used on the road. The goal is to create a model for toll roads that will allow a continuous, predictable, safe and efficient traffic flow through a hybrid road infrastructure that is capable of managing the period of transition of vehicle types, and which will serve as a basis for future autonomous transport systems. Although the project focuses mainly on toll roads, the main results could also be transferred to urban roads.
The project is a multidisciplinary initiative involving 11 companies and European institutions, all of them leaders in the automotive and road industries, working on the coexistence of autonomous and conventional vehicles. INFRAMIX is part of the European Union’s Horizon 2020 program, which provided the project’s 4.5m (US$5.3m) funding.
Abertis, through its French subsidiary Sanef, is also working on a project with Renault to jointly shape autonomous and connected cars that could safely navigate toll roads, passing smoothly through critical points, such as toll barriers and work zones.