A test bed in which all interested parties can plug in their applications or components is simply essential for SMEs, as this cannot be set up by them individually. Even large players, such as the national research institutes, cannot set standards for vehicles to interact with all the different elements of a traffic infrastructure, like traffic lights, for example.
Regulation issues such as liability, privacy, or whether some applications or systems will be made mandatory can't be addressed in isolation either, and a whole range of standards have also been proposed to a number of European bodies. Collaboration on a test bed makes sure these, and the associated intellectual property rights (IPRs), are supported.
'Obviously the technology has to be interoperable throughout Europe, and there is a need to cooperate closely. SME ITS Associations have therefore sorted out the partnerships, and some of the larger SMEs are helping to set requirements, provide feedback and follow up on developments,' says Mr Renckens. 'The project also provides clusters of SMEs with a way of getting involved in European-wide pre-standardisation, and it's a channel they can use to talk to governmental authorities and follow up on the directions governments are moving in.'
The timing of ITS TEST BEDS is also crucial. Similar test beds are being set up in competing markets such as the US and Japan, so a response to this potential threat has to be carefully coordinated at European level.
'The DG [Directorate-General] Research Programme creates a great opportunity to make this kind of response possible,' declares Mr Renckens.