Volkswagen leading major European automated driving research project


The Volkswagen Group is leading the European L3Pilot research project, which will be testing automated driving systems on public roads in 11 countries over the next four years.

The four-year L3Pilot research initiative has been launched in Wolfsburg, Germany, with the project aiming to analyze the opportunities for using automated driving technologies to improve future mobility systems.

Under Volkswagen’s leadership, a research consortium of 13 European automobile manufacturers, three major automotive technology suppliers, 11 research institutes and universities, and small and mid-sized companies, will collect data from automated vehicles in 11 European countries. The overall project budget of €68m (US$81.5m) includes support from the European Commission (EC) valued at €36m (US$41m), making it the biggest EU-sponsored project of its kind.

The consortium will operate a fleet of 100 vehicles with 1,000 drivers on public roads in order to test automated driving systems that conform to SAE Level 3 (Conditional Automation with some human intervention) and Level 4 (High Automation with no human intervention required). The testing will be under ‘real-world’ conditions and will cover a wide range of applications, from parking and overtaking, to driving in complex city traffic.

Overall, the project will collect data for assessing technical aspects of vehicle performance, user acceptance, driving and travel behavior, and the impact of these systems on traffic and society. The broad spectrum of driving situations means that L3Pilot is the first project worldwide to implement and test such comprehensive functions of automated driving in practice.

Alongside the technology assessments, a statutory framework of conditions for vehicle manufacturers and drivers will also be analyzed and developed, with a focus on product liability and road traffic regulations.

“We are confident that the research initiative L3Pilot will create a broadly based and comprehensive platform for the realization of mobility in the future,” said project coordinator Aria Etemad, from Volkswagen Group Research. “The strong integration of the entire European automobile industry, and the scientific support by experts in the areas of mobility and automated vehicles, will drive this initiative forward and make it successful.”

The auto makers involved in the project are: Volkswagen, Audi, BMW, Fiat, Daimler, Ford, Honda, Jaguar Land Rover, Opel, Groupe PSA, Renault, Toyota, and Volvo.

Other participants include: technology suppliers Autoliv, Delphi, and FEV; insurers AZT Automotive and Swiss Reinsurance Company; and the Netherlands Vehicle Authority RDW.

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).