The Norwegian Public Roads Administration (NPRA) has officially opened its Borealis Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) testbed on the European route E8 highway with a demonstration of truck platooning involving its Swedish and Finnish partners.
The three-year Aurora Borealis international cooperation project was launched by the Finnish and Norwegian road authorities in 2016. The Norwegian Borealis pilot covers a 25 mile-long (40km) section of the E8 highway that runs from Skibotn to Kilpisjärvi. Finland has the corresponding Aurora project that continues along the E8 on the section running from Kilpisjärvi to Kolari.
On both sides of the border, the public highway has been equipped with Connected-ITS (C-ITS) technologies to allow wireless communications from vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-roadside infrastructure (V2I), and infrastructure-to-vehicle (I2V), to create an overall vehicle-to-everything (V2X) network.
The road was selected for its socio-economic significance to both partners, as it is a route with demanding winter conditions and a large share of heavy vehicles, which covers 26% of all traffic, and the quantity of freight traffic increasing by more than 70% since 2010. The partners will be trialling several interoperable examples of C-ITS technology, including real-time data exchange of information about the weather, road surface conditions, traffic accidents, automatic scanning of the vehicle’s braking systems, and warnings of wildlife or other obstacles on the roadway.
The official opening of the E8 testbed saw the first Norwegian tests of wirelessly connected trucks in a platooning formation on public roads in the country. The demonstration included Swedish truck manufacturer Scania, which is involved in cooperative partnership with the Finnish logistics company Ahola Transport.
While Scania is developing the advanced radar and camera technology that provides the information for inter-vehicle wireless communications, Ahola will develop tools that will allow the logistics and freight transport industry to use platooning technology efficiently.
During trials on the E8 route, the trucks in the convoy will transfer real-time information to a control center that is in charge of coordinating the vehicles and their respective tasks. Platooning offers a number of advantages as air resistance is significantly lower for the trucks following the lead vehicle, which reduces fuel consumption, benefitting both the environment and the transport operator.
“The technology is in continuous development. It is not unthinkable that in time, so little of the driver’s attention will be needed that the time a truck spends as vehicle number two or three in the platoon does not have to count as driving time,” noted Scania project manager, Christian Bergstrand.
“Norwegian winter roads are a perfect testing ground for us, simply because they are not as easy to drive as roads on the European continent. This requires a lot from the technology platooning is based on.”
Discussing the E8 testbed, the NPRA’s Borealis project manager, Gunn Sissel Dobakk, said, “To put it simply, we have built a 40km-long research station in asphalt. Here we are facilitating the collection of large amounts of data about traffic, weather and road surface conditions on a route that is highly exposed to rough and volatile weather.
“It is equally important to us to enable others to use the technological infrastructure and the data we are already collecting.”