20 November 2013

As the year is slowly turning to the end, the ERTICO partnership is expanding with 4 new public and private organisations joining the network. In this issue we dedicate our monthly interview to one of the most advanced organisations in terms of technological research and development: Chalmers University of Technology.

Chalmers have been involved in ITS for several years now, developing several specific education programmes which vary from safety issues to logistics and renewable fuels in engines. Professor Stig Franzén, expert in HMI (Human Machine Interaction), gave us a great insight to the current activities of the University.

1. Chalmers University of Technology has recently joined the ERTICO Partnership. Can you tell us why, what benefits you see in this partnership and in general what are the European trends in terms of ITS that interest you the most?

ERTICO has been an actor in the ITS arena for a long period of time and its staff have gained a lot of experience on ITS matters, especially regarding research, development and deployment. Most of them are related to the EU Research Programmes. And if combined with the impressive ERTICO network of Partners, these factors played a central role in our decision to become a Partner of ERTICO.

We are convinced that we will find opportunities for future interesting R&D alliances, especially for projects in the context of Horizon 2020. We have also seen the willingness of ERTICO to promote education and training in the ITS field, which is of great interest for a university like Chalmers.

Furthermore, the rapid development of new and advanced information and communication technologies enables smarter and more advanced mobile solutions. The trends in such areas need to be identified at an early stage in order to foresee the new types of individualised services (such as personalised travel planning) and automatic solutions (for example automated vehicles) that now have begun to emerge. This is a huge intelligence task and ERTICO is well suited for such an endeavour.

2. Chalmers has been and is involved in several European projects, is there any specific initiative within the ERTICO partnership you are planning to participate in or liaison with some partner organisations you would like to develop in the future?

Chalmers will contribute to the ERTICO Partnership via the strategic Chalmers’ “Area of Advance in Transport”. This is a multi-disciplinary grouping consisting of more than 150 researchers in 17 of the 18 departments of Chalmers. The Area of Advance in Transport is divided into three profile areas: Traffic Safety, Transport Efficiency and Customer Adopted Logistic, and Sustainable Vehicle Technologies.

  • Traffic Safety covers all aspects of safe road transport , including safe interconnection to other transport areas and modes
  • Transport Efficiency and Customer Adopted Logistics covers all aspects of effective and efficient transport and include several subsystems such as companies’ logistics, individuals’ mobility, transport and traffic systems
  • Sustainable Vehicle Technologies covers electrification, hybridisation, combustion engines, exhaust after-treatment systems, renewable fuels in engines, systems engineering, resistance, maintainability and environmental aspects, all applied on different modes of transport

Throughout the years, Chalmers has worked with many of the ERTICO research partners such as SINTEF and VTT, ERTICO industrial partners such as Volvo Car Corporation, Volvo Technology and Ericsson AB in addition to the Swedish Transport Administration. These partnerships have resulted in many fruitful EU projects. Some of the latest projects are FESTA, euroFOT, TeleFOT, FOT-NeT, DriveC2X and OPTICITIES. Other ITS-related studies on the national scene have been on the use of RFID based tracking of railway wagons in Sweden and the usage of Smart Transport Management concepts to increase sustainability in the transport industry; in this context SEVS (Safe, Electric and hybrid novel VehicleS) can be mentioned.

There are also the national projects GO:SMART and SENDSMART addressing sustainable urban mobility for both passengers and freight. We have an interest in cooperative driving, as well as in automatic and autonomous driving and look upon ITS as a tool for increased safety for vulnerable road users. Our position in Human Factors Engineering (including HMI design) is strong and methodologies for in depth studies of User Acceptance and Adoption (for example User Uptake) have been launched. And finally we have an excellent track record in evaluation as well as in transferability analysis.

3. Chalmers University is working to “become the leader in research and education on green, safe and efficient transport solutions” (; what steps in terms of technologies, educational programmes, financing are you taking to grant these targets?

The research profile Traffic Safety includes three main areas: understanding the real traffic environment through collection and analysis of data; countermeasures to avoid accidents and prevent injuries; and mitigate their consequences. The research here is coordinated by the competence centre SAFER hosted by Chalmers.

Sweden has, for a long time, had a scientific approach towards traffic safety and was the first country to express a “Vision Zero” (no fatalities or severe injuries in traffic accidents) thus bringing safety to a systemic issue. Traffic safety is a multi-disciplinary research field depending on both deep intra-disciplinary as well as cross-functional research on many system levels. Chalmers has been involved in traffic safety research during the last 50 years and hosts several researchers and research groups with the highest international reputation, especially in the area of injury prevention. The network with the industry and society is strong due to several successful collaborations. It could also be mentioned that an international conference on driver distraction takes place in Gothenburg every year. More than 130 researchers and PhD students from at least eight departments engage in traffic safety related research.

Our research profile on Transport Efficiency and Customer Adapted Logistics focuses on transport systems as part of supply chains, which is a holistic construct that involves close collaboration, synchronised processes and material flows between organisational units. The research centre Northern LEAD coordinates the activities that address these issues. This profile includes all aspects of effective and efficient transport systems; an efficient transport system is essential for our personal mobility and an effective overall logistics system. In turn, these factors determine the quality of our lives and the competitiveness of our businesses. But transport systems also have negative effects; accordingly, the challenge is to create environmentally friendly transport systems with increased customer service and cost efficiency. For instance, by including all types of customers from freight actors to urban travellers and increasing services linked to travel guidance and planning, the traffic volume can be minimised with positive impacts on the environment.

In this context, it is necessary to address several levels of the transport system simultaneously. This requires a systems approach that takes into consideration the interactions of vehicles and vessels, infrastructure networks and the use of transport services for both passengers and freight. To enable such an approach, more than 100 researchers and PhD students from thirteen different departments at Chalmers and University of Gothenburg are now engaged.

The research profile Sustainable Vehicle Technologies engages several research centres: the Swedish Hybrid Vehicle Centre (SHC), the Competence Centre for Catalysis (KCK), the Combustion Engine Research Centre (CERC), and a newly formed centre focusing on renewable fuels amongst others. This profile is developed in cooperation with the Area of Advance in Energy. In this context, a national project, SEVS2, has just been completed. It has looked into the future of transportation linked to electro-mobility, and one important result is the development of a multi-disciplinary methodology for the analysis of potential solutions.

Three fields of research have been identified in this profile: Efficient powertrains; Vehicle concept development; and Vehicle operation and control. They have all core research values that are common to all transport modes. To a large extent the active field research components within Efficient powertrains are applicable to many or all transport modes; for example how to provide the power for propulsion. The active research activities within the Vehicle concept development and Vehicle operation and control, have several aspects which are shared between different modes of transport, such as light weight design, flow resistance and performance monitoring, and operator interfacing. Other areas tend to be more specialised in individual modes of transport; for example ship propeller design or manoeuvring of cars.

The researchers of all three excellence programmes have been involved in teaching activities covering 21 of Chalmers’ 41 Master degrees. 454 Master’s students got their degree from these programmes in 2010. In addition, 844 people from 43 different companies participated in training programmes arranged by the Area of Advance in Transport in 2010.

4. Can you tell us more about Chalmers’ “Vision Zero” ( What are the main challenges in Sweden to reach this goal?

“Vision Zero” is a notion borrowed from the long-term and systematic approach to improve traffic safety in Sweden. Chalmers is the host of the national centre for vehicle and traffic safety – SAFER – that gathers researchers from a plethora of disciplines within Chalmers but also 24 other partners from the academy, industry and society. “Vision zero” is the long-term goal for the SAFER partners

Aiming at “zero” includes also the climate impact of transport, while at the same time improving transport efficiency (for example through a better use of vehicles and infrastructure). This is another huge challenge that we have taken on board in line with the Swedish transport policy goal to reach fossil free traffic by 2050.

5. Your current research is focusing on identifying and investigating factors which are barriers or drivers for the full deployment of new ITS-based solutions. Can you tell us more about this field of research and your interest in this specific field?

User acceptance and adoption (User uptake) is crucial for the market success of new ITS-related solutions. To a great extent, traffic and travel information have so far been based on the interest of the public sector. New ITS technologies will enhance the possibility for new actors to enter the scene, for example smart phones companies and apps developers, or by applying a bottom-up approach like crowd sourcing.

New fields are emerging with completely new business models where deadlocks (everyone waiting for the others to make the first investment move) can be side-stepped. However, there is a lack of standards in many fields that impose barriers for the full deployment of new solutions.

There is also a lack of knowledge in the field of transferability of results. Project results are often limited to either a small test area or a specific location. Further studies are needed in order to understand how to scale up or transfer results to a larger (European) scene or another context (other cities, countries, etc.). The lack of transferability of results is also linked to the analysis of those results themselves; for instance projects might look only on specific target groups rather than ordinary users. These obstacles have been partially overcome by FOTs (Field Operational Tests) where ordinary users of different ages and locations have been chosen. Chalmers has been a pioneer in the FOT context being involved in projects like FESTA, euroFOT, TeleFOT and FOT-NeT. Finally, there is a lack of standards; manufacturers can use different devices and HMI that makes it difficult to compare results. Ideally the international scene should find a harmonised way to analyse and present those results; a long process indeed.

For more information about Chalmers University of Technology please visit the website