Easing the transition towards automated driving
Automated vehicles will soon be a reality on our roads but their safe integration into a 'mixed ability' transport system will require careful attention. EU-funded research is addressing the challenges posed by specific traffic conditions and testing possible solutions.
© Julian Schindler, 2016-2019
Europe has set itself the goal of being a world leader in the deployment of connected and automated driving (CAD) which it believes will contribute significantly to reducing road fatalities, lowering harmful emissions from transport and decreasing traffic congestion. However, as the introduction of automated vehicles (AVs) and connected automated vehicles (CAVs) draws ever closer, it is increasingly necessary to investigate their potential impact on traffic safety and efficiency. This is particularly relevant in the context of a mixed-ability transport system whereby conventional vehicles will be sharing the roads with highly automated ones.
The EU-funded TRANSAID project is examining those areas of the transport system that are likely to present specific challenges to automated vehicles. The aim is to anticipate any possible problems that may arise and develop solutions in advance to respond to them.
When AVs and CAVs are introduced, there will be areas of the road system that are likely to present particular challenges for them missing sensor inputs, construction areas with adapted traffic arrangements, emergency situations, or simply complex intersections that would be challenging even to the regular road user, explains project coordinator Julian Schindler of the German Aerospace Centre (DLR).
In these situations, AVs will probably seek to hand control back to the driver or a remote operator. If, for some reason, this transition does not happen smoothly, the vehicle may slow down or come to a halt to ensure safety. Our aim is to examine what effect this may have on the efficiency of the overall transport system, as well as the safety and comfort of other road users, and come up with solutions to anticipate problem scenarios, he adds.
Testing for future mobility
What sets TRANSAID apart is its specific focus on the traffic management aspect of the introduction of CAD it is one of the first projects worldwide to deal with this topic. We want to come up with solutions that allow the traffic systems of the future to be as stable as, or more stable than, they are right now, says Schindler. For this, it is important that we also discuss the negative impacts of automated driving (AD) to be able to find solutions in advance to enable everyone to take advantage of the increased mobility offered by automated systems. The projects overall aim is to ensure the smooth coexistence of (C)AVs and conventional vehicles.
TRANSAID is active in four main areas: the realistic simulation of future traffic, including (C)AVs; standardisation, working in close cooperation with European and international standardisation organisations like the European Telecommunications Standards Institute; the deployment and testing of infrastructure components to support fluid traffic management of (C)AVs; and cooperation with original equipment manufacturers to test prototypes.
So far, the project has created a set of case studies analysing the impact of specific scenarios on the traffic system and evaluating different approaches designed to help (C)AVs. These may include several options from the provision of supplementary information through infrastructure interventions to the allocation of safe spots or traffic separation areas.
The most promising solutions will then be implemented as prototypes and demonstrated under real-world conditions in the Netherlands. The projects final deliverable will be a set of guidelines for advanced infrastructure-assisted driving and a roadmap defining the upgrades of road infrastructure needed in the next 15 years to guarantee the smooth coexistence of conventional and automated vehicles.