Currently, achieving a society powered by driverless vehicles may seem like a distant reality. To truly exploit the safety and efficiency benefits of automation, vehicles must communicate not only between themselves, but also with the surrounding infrastructure. The latest ERTICO Academy webinar in collaboration with the ARCADE project and organised in the framework of the EUCAD 2020 Symposium brought together experts from BMW, ASFINAG, MAPtm, FEHRL and Huawei who are involved in the latest on-going infrastructure projects focused on automation.  They discussed common aspects to give the audience a broader picture of the usability of operational domains.

Globally there are numerous research and innovation projects pushing forward the uptake of autonomous vehicles. “In Europe, there are currently over 200 projects and pilot activities working on Connected and Automated Driving identified by ARCADE so far. ARCADE gathers information about R&I and pilot initiatives, methodologies, regulation and standards into a common knowledge base that allows all stakeholders to identify best practices, exchange lessons learned and reflect common approaches. A webinar such as this that brings together experts virtually can ensure alignment of approaches related to technologies or policies and the different elements on the journey towards a harmonised deployment of automation,” says Stephane Dreher, ERTICO Senior Manager and Coordinator of the European project ARCADE.

And indeed, discussions revolved around the necessity of having a common approach and creating synergies. Jacqueline Erhart, Team Leader Cooperative Connected Automated Driving at ASFINAG stressed the importance of working together to identify the different roles necessary in the vehicle and infrastructure industry and to find a common solution.

Making automated driving a reality entails the use of numerous technologies: real time HD map updates, digitised variable traffic signs and traffic lights, reliable real time localised traffic information and other technologies depending on whether one is considering an urban or extra urban environment.

Automation is not only a matter of technology. Other aspects need to be involved, such as the type of passengers or goods that are to be transported, as well as the kind of use albeit commercial or personal and the different levels of infrastructure present and available to support the innovations required to power connected and automated driving.

The environment in which autonomous vehicles will operate represents a challenge, explained Armin Graeter, Technical Product Manager Regulation Automated Driving at BMW during the webinar. For instance, the vehicle’s speed, the number of obstacles and objects detected are different on the highway rather than in a city, so highway use cases are different from urban ones. The complexity of a town scenario however still exists in rural areas, as often there are high speeds that come with safety concerns. “CAD still faces huge technological challenges. We need to be aware that roll-out is limited due to the complexity of the scenario. Digital infrastructure needs to deliver its contribution”, he continued.

Infrastructure plays a key role both for road operators and traffic managers. Jacqueline Erhart noted the importance of an autonomous vehicle being able to handle different traffic situations, both in intense and low traffic conditions. It is clear that the vehicle must understand where there are local roadwork zones, where lanes are closed and other variables and potentially also situations where the vehicles will have to hand over the driving to the driver.

To be aware of the surrounding environment and variable conditions (e.g. road works, closed lanes, etc.), vehicles will have to communicate with infrastructure, which will help them calculate and respond to different situations in real time.

“There is great need for synergy between infrastructure and vehicles. Infrastructure can increase vehicles’ perception and lead them through difficult situations. We are working to identify the most important parts of infrastructure,” added Thierry Goger, Secretary General of FEHRL, who provided an overview of projects CoEXist and INFRAMIX. “There will be a long transition to full automation, but there is a real opportunity for a modal shift towards integrated and shared public transport services. However, it has to be affordable,” he continued.

Simulation was the aspect stressed by Jaap Vreeswijk, Traffic Architect Connected and Automated Driving at MAP traffic management, who presented project TransAID and explained MAPtm’s work in examining the Transition of Control (ToC) from the car to the driver with minimum risk and takeover request, for which the calculation of environmental conditions, heavy traffic and unplanned events is crucial. He suggested that remote supervisory centres with personal operators providing helpdesks could eventually assist in escalation protocols and also encourage public acceptance.

With over 200 participants from all the world regions, the latest ERTICO Academy webinar and this ARCADE Symposium gave a wealth of information. It also provided insight from other markets thanks to the presence of Huawei’s Vice President, Industry Development Jan Ellsberger, who shared updates on China’s smart roads, 2030 and 2050 targets, the country’s industry landscape, policy and regulations, technology developments and standards.

“It was extremely insightful and important to identify priorities and focus on the next actions to take and support the European Commission in identifying these future priorities for R&I roadmaps.” concluded Stephane Dreher. ARCADE has so far supported the development of the Strategic Transport Research & Innovation Agenda (STRIA) from the European Commission, the ERTRAC CAD Roadmap and is currently actively involved in the CCAM Platform. ARCADE is also involved in the development of the Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda for the preparation of the future CCAM Partnership proposal, which will have a leading role for ERTICO.

This ERTICO Academy webinar on CAD proved once again, and as confirmed by the participants, that collaboration across sectors is essential to overcome common obstacles when it comes to innovation and provides the ideal occasion to interact, discuss and learn. Three further webinars will be organised together with the ERTICO Academy in the framework of the EUCAD 2020 Symposium, later in the year.