Finland’s new Aurora intelligent road opened for AV and connected ITS trials


The Finnish Transport Agency (FTA) has opened its Aurora intelligent road and is now welcoming testers from all over the world to try out their new automated driving and connected infrastructure technologies on the route.

The FTA’s Aurora intelligent road has just been completed, and offers the opportunity to test intelligent transport systems (ITS) and proactive road condition management systems by providing the supporting physical infrastructure and data services. The 6.2 mile-long (10km) intelligent road section (Pahtonen–Puthaanranta) located on Finland’s Main Road 21 also offers the opportunities for testing automated vehicles (AVs) and their related technologies in challenging road and weather conditions, as the road is equipped to support and monitor their technical performance.

Participants will have open access to data collected about the road and its surroundings through the FTA’s Digitraffic service platform. Testing may include, for example, locating vehicles in situations where the road is covered by snow and ice. The intelligent road is part of the Aurora Borealis Corridor, which starts in Kolari, Finland, and ends in Tromsø, Norway. An important collaboration partner in the Aurora project is the Norwegian Public Roads Administration, which is building its own intelligent road section from the Kilpisjärvi border area towards Skibotn Valley.

“Now we can see how automated driving affects the road network and the demands this places on winter road maintenance. The authorities, especially those which plan, build and maintain the road network, are now offered the opportunity to gain useful information about road maintenance and management,” said Reija Viinanen, FTA’s director of the Aurora Collaboration.

“The road users’ services, which are based on real-time data gained about the road and road conditions, form the cornerstones of intelligent transport. Our objective is safe and smooth transport. Earlier this year, field tests on accumulated location data were launched in both the FTA’s and the Finnish Transport Safety Agency’s own long-term research projects. The cooperation with Norway focuses on cross-border solutions and actions promoting the safety of heavy-duty vehicles, as we have challenging Nordic transport conditions in common, for which we need new and smarter solutions.”

Antti Vehviläinen, general director of the FTA, noted, “Finland now has the opportunity to be profiled as a pioneer in the testing of automated winter driving. Research on road condition management and proactive winter road maintenance plays an important role. Moreover, the test road project, and how its results are utilized, form a vital part of the action plan to reduce the maintenance backlog of transport infrastructure.”

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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).