The Comune di Verona presents mobility technology available in the city. The city is able to monitor public transport with an advanced Traffic Control Room that controls traffic in urban areas. ICT4CART project is designing, implementing and testing in real-life conditions a versatile ICT infrastructure that will enable the transition towards higher levels of automation (up to L4) addressing existing gaps and working with specific key ICT elements, namely hybrid connectivity, data management, cyber-security, data privacy and accurate localisation. ICT4CART builds on high-value use cases (urban and highway), which will be demonstrated and validated in real-life conditions at the test sites.

The consortium of 21 partners from nine EU countries are united in their vision to build a sustainable future for connected and automated vehicles. In this article, we discuss with Comune di Verona about their role in ICT4CART and the latest telecommunication technologies in place.

Meet the Comune di Verona

The municipality of Verona is a city of 259,086 people and a territory of 195 square kilometres. The city has a road network of over 1,000 km, and over 200,000 vehicles drive on these roads daily. The local government has delegated to the Department for Mobility and Traffic all power relating to urban mobility planning, maintenance of road signs, monitoring of public transport and the organisation of the Traffic Control Room. The main tasks of  the Traffic Control Room include traffic control for urban areas, public transport management, mobility information services, mobility planning and analysis and prediction models and its main activities  are based on technological solutions such as ACR (Authority Control Room) and TOC (Transport Operator Control).

The Comune di Verona in ICT4CART: what is your role?

The pilot of the city of Verona is based on the deployments made by the COMPASS4D project (EU 2013-2015), where either ITS G5 or Cellular communication (LTE) was used for the different services implemented by the project. The RSUs installed are currently placed within the central area covering the main arteries that enter the city. The pilot site is also equipped with state-of-the-art backend systems able to deliver dynamic traffic light information (GLOSA), for all signalised intersections operating in the city (SPATEM & MAPEM messages), to vehicles that receive real time speed advice to cross the intersection in front with the green light and remaining waiting times while stopped at a red light. It also delivers all kind of traffic data, which give specific advice to reduce incidents, by warning drivers about queuing traffic in blind spots, or dangerous situations ahead. Verona will extend its current infrastructure of RSU and test new use-cases related to create synergies between urban and inter-urban environments.

Scenarios (SCNs) of the Verona Pilot Site to be developed in ICT4CART:

  • Parking management in City of Verona (SPIoTCDV): On-street parking management will be implemented and tested in the city of Verona, based on SWM/CDV infrastructure. The reception of useful information to end-users (vehicles) will be demonstrated on CRF connected vehicles.
  • Dynamic adaptation of vehicle automation level (DAVACDV): Speed limitations, traffic light phases, and exceptional events, managed by the infrastructure, should be able to condition automated driving, whilst guaranteeing comfort inside the vehicle. The Urban scenario will address speed adaptation and start-and-stop adaptation based on traffic light phases. In particular, the infrastructure has to communicate with the vehicle so that it can adapt its behaviour to avoid dangers and possible collisions with other vehicles or vulnerable road users (VRUs) as pedestrians and bicycles.
  • Virtual mirror to “see” surrounding traffic in urban environment (VMCDV): An urban intersection in city of Verona is monitored by the ICT4CART infrastructure that is in charge to detect road users, to predict their dynamics and to broadcast an environment model of the road users present in the intersection, i.e., indicate the presence and position of road users that are in the intersection and where they are going. The considered road users are not limited to vehicles, but they include also Vulnerable Road Users (VRUs) such as pedestrians and bicyclists (an example of connected bicycle will be tested among other legacy VRUs). The connected and automated vehicle can refine its driving action based on the information received by the ICT4CART infrastructure since it can be aware of road users even if they are in blind spots and the VRUs can be alerted about possible dangers..
  • GLOSA (Green Light Optimized Speed Advisory): An urban intersection is monitored by the ICT4CART infrastructure. When a connected and automated vehicle is approaching the intersection, based on the vehicle position, the ICT4CART infrastructure sends information regarding the time to the next green phase and on the optimal speed to maintain to reach it. The connected and automated vehicle can rely on the information received to reach it at the beginning of the next green phase and refine its driving action accordingly. The infrastructure will securely communicate with the vehicle using the 4G/LTE mobile network.

What are the preconditions to provide a versatile connected infrastructure and how does this support the evolution towards autonomous driving?

To allow the constant development of services to vehicles in urban areas, it is important to create connected and centralized infrastructures; such systems are known as ITS and many European directives have established reference guidelines and technical specifications. These directives have also been implemented in Italy but much remains to be done, especially at the level of investments in medium and small cities. Only with investments in the ITS sector will it be possible to develop vehicle-infrastructure communications and adequately support autonomous driving.

According to your analysis, how will the market structure develop?

The automotive sector will invest more and more in assisted and autonomous driving systems therefore cities will have to adapt by implementing ITS infrastructures in order not to suffer the dominance of private operators in strategic public sectors such as urban mobility.

From Comune di Verona’s point of view, what potential impact could COVID-19 have on further research and development and/or future actions of connected and autonomous vehicle technology?

Undoubtedly the COVID-19 pandemic has upset our life in the cities: social distancing determines a dangerous abandonment of local public transport which will take many years to return to pre-covid market values. Private traffic, on the other hand, is making a comeback in urban areas and network operators have to adapt very quickly. Sustainable mobility alone (electric micromobility for example) cannot by itself support the demand for mobility by users, but timely information to users (smart awareness) can contribute to the development of intelligent and sustainable travel.

Available equipment in the city of Verona (CDV) is:

  • Connection of 142 traffic lights stations, of which 62 is centralised by fiber channel and more by a dedicated G4/G5 interface, having more than 600 sensors on site;
  • RSU ITS-G5 for C-ROADS ITALY 2 Project (EU);
  • AVI (Automatic Vehicle Identification):
    • 22 electronically controlled ways to control goods access and bus paths. All the events are managed by operators and sent to info mobility channels (social networks, web, sms, etc.);
    • over 30 RFID UHF Passive gates for monitoring of freight vehicle in the central area;
  • PGI (Parking Guidance and Information): over 35 vms for Parking Information;
  • AVC (Automatic Vehicle Classification): 13 traffic stations for 24h traffic data collection;
  • VMS (Variable Message System):
    • 11 panels for restricted access areas information
    • 13 panels to access urban areas
    • 6 for internal road network
    • 52 electronic panels to parking directions;
  • SOS (Safety Operation System): 22 SOS platforms for communication with citizens;
  • VDS (Videosurveillance): 82 CCTVs on road network + 121 CCTVs for urban security.