Spanish consulting and infrastructure technology company Indra is leading a pioneering project that will test autonomous driving on European roads, with three pilots taking place on corridors in the capital cities of France, Portugal and Spain.
The pilots are part of the EU-funded Autocits project, which has a budget of 2.6m (US$2.7m) and financing from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) program. The project’s aim is to facilitate the deployment of autonomous vehicles in urban nodes by developing intelligent transport services based on cooperative systems (C-ITS) that will enable vehicles, users, and infrastructures, to communicate and share information, using the ITS-G5 European standard. The R+D+I project addresses the links between this type of connectivity and automation, with a special focus on road safety and the changes, both physical and digital, that need to be implemented in the infrastructure and in traffic control centers.
A core aim is to reconcile the traffic management functions carried out at these centers with the presence of driverless vehicles, bearing in mind that the information traffic authorities provide through C-ITS is gaining increasing importance at the highest levels of automation for triggering actions in both conventional and automated vehicles. Taking place in 2017 and 2018, the pilots will test this relationship between autonomous vehicles, conventional vehicles, and control centers, and recommendations will be drawn up on the basis of the results. The ultimate goal is to contribute to the regulatory framework and traffic rules, in order to enhance the interoperability of autonomous vehicles, while ensuring correct use on all types of roads in every country in Europe, and safe coexistence with other vehicles.
The pilots will be the very first of their kind in the Atlantic Core Network Corridor and among the first ones in Europe to include tests of autonomous vehicles, from different providers, both closed and open to conventional traffic, on urban and arterial roads and highway interchanges. Specifically:
The Madrid tests will be carried out on the Bus-HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lane that connects the M-30 beltway, with plans to test I2V communications, where the control center sends direct information to vehicles about potential hazards, such as road works, the presence of a slow or stationary emergency vehicle, and warnings about weather conditions;
The Lisbon tests will be on Avenues Marginal and Brasilia, two major roads connecting the city to the A-36 highway and other transport infrastructures such as waterways and rail links, with similar notifications sent about warnings and danger spots, but using V2X communications between the vehicle and any connected object or device, in this case a second ‘robotic’ vehicle;
The Paris tests are on the A-4 highway on the outskirts of the city, where the system will issue warnings, not only about dangerous situations, but traffic jams as well, and it will help to manage these by using I2V communications between the control center and autonomous vehicles to offer information on speed and recommended or alternative lanes.