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'HeavyRoute' project presents final results

A key EU-funded research project aimed at improving road safety and capacity while reducing impacts on the environment and maintenance costs held its final meeting in Brussels in June 2009.

Motorway traffic © Peter Gutierrez
Making way on Europe's
transport routes
© Peter Gutierrez

The volume of freight transport on roads has grown steadily in recent years and is expected to continue to increase significantly over the next decade. This, together with increasing gross weights and changing load configurations of heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), has led to accelerated road surface fatigue and damage to bridges, as well as major traffic management problems in terms of safety and congestion.

Meanwhile, truck operators face the combined challenges of reducing ever-increasing fuel costs, while maximising efficiency and profitability.

Modern technologies reducing the burden

Partners in the HeavyRoute project believe a new generation of maps and map-related systems for trucks can help address all of these issues. Using satellite navigation systems such as GPS and Europe's EGNOS and Galileo, they say they can deliver major benefits to professional drivers looking for the most appropriate routes for their vehicles.

Project coordinator Anita Ihs of Sweden's VTI says "We are combining both existing and new technologies to improve safety and to maximise road capacity and efficiency. The HeavyRoute system uses the latest methods for calculating the safest and most cost-effective routes for road freight transport, taking into account user needs, vehicle operations and environmental costs, but also maintenance costs due to the deterioration of roads, bridges and other infrastructure."

Combining talents

Anita Ihs © Peter Gutierrez
Anita Ihs
© Peter Gutierrez

Funded under the European Union's Sixth Research Framework Programme, HeavyRoute brings together all of Europe's major freight transport stakeholders. Project partners have developed new tools, systems and data collection and interpretation processes to effectively link Europe's road infrastructure via electronic mapping schemes to truck operators and drivers.

Results on show at the HeavyRoute final seminar included three main applications, developed using detailed data on vehicles, infrastructure and traffic, as well as vehicle/infrastructure interaction models:

Pre-trip route planning

  • Allowable routes were derived based on HGV-specific data, together with physical and legal restrictions on infrastructure.
  • Formulas were developed to address fuel consumption, emissions, noise, safety, driver comfort and infrastructure maintenance costs.

Driving support

  • Real time driver warning systems and driving guidelines, for example recommended speed to avoid roll-over.

Monitoring and management of HGVs at bridges

  • Advice on speed, minimum vehicle spacing and/or lane change to keep appropriate loading of bridges.

Satisfying conclusion

HeavyRoute final conference © HeavyRoute
HeavyRoute final conference
© HeavyRoute

Detailed project results were presented by key project leaders, including Kees Wevers of NAVTEQ, VTI's Gunnar Lindberg, Silke Forkert and Thomas Benz of PTV, and Véronique Cérézo from CETE Lyon.

Panel discussions addressed key issues such as appropriate models and data for pan- European applicability. Also speaking at the final seminar, European Commission Scientific Officer William Bird said HeavyRoute was yet another example of excellent research and development being carried out by a strong international and multi-sectoral European team.

"It embodies the ambitions that the Commission has throughout its surface transport research programme," said Bird, "to promote safety and sustainability, to improve infrastructure capacity management, to reduce hazards, to keep traffic flows moving and to bolster the European economy, particularly at such difficult times."