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Intelligent transport projects in focus

With the focus on intelligent transport systems for use in daily life, EU research projects looking to expand practical applications were on show at the 16th ITS Congress in Stockholm.

ITS project © Neil Maclean
Focus on intelligent
transport systems
© Neil Maclean

The centerpiece of the international ITS Congress in Stockholm last in September 2009 was a major exhibition, featuring a wide range of innovative new vehicles, systems and infrastructure initiatives. Some projects on display funded under the EU's Surface Transport Research programme included:

City Mobil

The City Mobil project, which began in 2006 under the EU Commission’s Sixth Research Framework Programme (FP6), is running several demonstration projects of different small automated vehicles across Europe.

Aside from testing the new systems in real-life operation, the main aim is to make the public more aware of the potential of 'cyber cars' and redress the balance between public and individual transport.

In the UK, a four person automatic pod vehicle will operate at Heathrow airport, shuttling travellers between terminals.

Meanwhile, a fleet of fully automated vehicles will operate at a new exhibition centre in Rome, taking visitors from the car park to the centre. By the end of the project, vehicle reservation will be synchronised with car park management, so that when a car enters the car park it will receive a designated space and a vehicle will arrive automatically at the nearest stop.

In Castellón, Spain, buses that can operate in either automatic or manual mode will connect the city centre with the university. Plans include extending the route to cover commercial centres, the port and the beaches so that it covers over 40km.

There are also smaller-scale showcases with a small fleet of vehicles that go to interested cities or towns for one or two weeks and city studies evaluating their suitability for automatic transport systems. Locations include: Daventry (UK), Vantaa (Finland), Trondheim (Norway), La Rochelle (France), Uppsala (Sweden), Madrid (Spain), Vienna (Austria), Gateshead (UK) and Lausanne (Switzerland).

ASSET Road

ITS Congress in Stockholm © Neil Maclean
ITS Congress in Stockholm
© Neil Maclean

This FP7-funded project aims to improve road safety through the development of systems linking vehicles and road infrastructure, and to improve driver awareness, support and behaviour. “We are not starting from zero,” says Luca Canovi from the University of Modena, one of 19 organisations in the project consortium. “The technologies we’re using are already mature.”

The key innovations that the project is looking at include the creation of integrated systems: vehicle tracking applications; ‘virtual driver agent’ systems that warn drivers of upcoming hazards as well as active assistance systems that automate vehicle functions; systems that measure the weight of vehicles loads; thermal imaging to detect defective tyres, wheels or brakes; satellite navigation-based applications to provide location information; electronic license plates and driver support systems.

“We are hoping it will lead to a real system within five years,” adds Canovi. The project began in 2008 and runs till the end of 2011, with 19 partners from the EU, Tanzania and India.

TeleFOT

This 48-month project, funded under the FP7 'Information Technologies' programme, involves over 3000 drivers in real-life testing of in-vehicle satellite navigation devices.

Trials are due to start in autumn 2009 in three different parts of the EU – Sweden and Finland in the north, Germany and the UK in the centre and Greece, Italy and Spain in the south. “The big advantage is that we’re using real drivers, not simulators,” says Serena Fruttaldo from the University of Modena, one of 23 partners in the project. “By using a large number of drivers over a long period of time, we will get to see variables not apparent in laboratory testing.”

Half of the drivers will have navigation devices fitted in their vehicles, while the other half have none. “All are fitted with datalogs, meaning we can assess the impact of the navigation devices on their driving behaviour,” explains Fruttaldo. The project will also test the eCall service, the automatic emergency call service, initially developed under the EU-funded 'AIDER' project.

euroFOT

Supported under the FP7's 'Information and Communication Technologies' programme, with funding totalling almost €14 million, the euroFOT project, made up of 28 academia and industry actors, will scientifically test and evaluate the impact of eight advanced driver assistance systems on safety, efficiency and driver comfort.

Partners will test lateral and longitudinal control systems that warn drivers of potential side- and front-end collisions. The partners pointed out that other advanced in-vehicle systems like the Curve speed warning and Fuel efficiency adviser, as well as the Human machine interaction with navigation systems, will also be evaluated in time.

ERTICO-ITS Europe's Maxime Flament said, "Car dealers and fleet owners Europe are currently recruiting the drivers that will take part in this experiment. At the same time, the vehicle operation centres are getting ready to prepare each vehicle for a one-year-long advanced data collection."

Safety in Motion (SIM)

This three-year project, funded under 'Surface Transport Research' and running from 2006-2009, looked at new safety devices for motorcycles. It included ‘active’ devices such as anti-lock brakes and traction control, ‘passive’ measures such as inflatable devices on riders and vehicles, and preventative systems providing information for drivers on road conditions and hazards.

The project produced a prototype vehicle which was on display in Stockholm.

Heavy Route

Funded under FP6, Heavy Route finished in June 2009. It aimed to “link vehicles with Europe’s infrastructure” and involved all stakeholders in the freight industry in the development of a new generation of maps and information systems.

Using satellite technology to deliver advanced route planning and driver support, the three main applications which have been developed into a prototype are pre-trip route planning, driver support during journeys and monitoring and management of heavy goods at bridges.

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