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Thursday, 29 June 2017 01:00cat

Researchers study the necessary road infrastructure preparation before the circulation of automated vehicles

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It should be able to support the transition period and become the basis for the future, fully automated, transport systems

A new research project that will prepare the road infrastructure to support the transition period and the coexistence of conventional and automated vehicles (mixed traffic) started in early June. Titled as ‘Road Infrastructure ready for mixed vehicle traffic flows’, INFRAMIX’s  main target is to design, upgrade, adapt and test (in simulations and in the real world)  both physical and digital elements of road infrastructure. This should lead to uninterrupted, predictable, safe and efficient traffic. Up to now, almost all initiatives on automated driving internationally just focus on vehicles and their drivers, leaving aside the traffic flow implications and the role of road infrastructure. For this reason, 11 European companies and institutions, leaders in innovation for the automotive and road sector, gathered in Vienna, Austria to share and discuss activities and expectations concerning a “hybrid” road infrastructure.

The project’s main objectives

INFRAMIX will focus on the points below in order to meet its target, while it is considered very important to ensure that the proposed adaptations will not jeopardize safety, quality of service, efficiency and will be appreciated by the users:

- use of mature simulation tools adjusted to the peculiarities of automated vehicles (incl. intelligent driving behavior models) and development of new mixed traffic flow models, to examine the effect of different levels of automated vehicles with different penetration rates

- establishment of hybrid testing of real vehicle and real digital infrastructure elements embedded into a virtual environment enabling detailed and realistic investigations in a complex but safe virtual traffic

- development and implementation of relevant traffic estimations and control algorithms

- proposal of minimum, targeted and affordable adaptations on elements of the road infrastructure, either physical, digital or a combination of them

- suggestion of ways of informing all types of vehicles about control commands issued by the road operator and proposing new kinds of visual and electronic signals for mixed scenarios

- creation of a novel infrastructure classification scheme indicating the connectivity and automation capabilities of any specific road infrastructure as well as a guide on how to incrementally upgrade infrastructure to mixed traffic.

The implementation of the objectives will be driven by three crucial traffic scenarios designed based on the requirements of traffic efficiency and safety, “dynamic lane assignment”, “roadworks zones”, and “bottlenecks”. This is accompanied by a user-oriented process throughout the project to achieve maximum user appreciation. After extended analysis and simulation tests, the outcomes will be assessed in real stretches of advanced highways in Austria and Spain, since highways are expected to be the initial hosts of such mixed traffic, however the project’s key results may well be transferred to urban roads.

The project will last till 31 May 2020 and has a budget of 4.9 million €, while it has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program.

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