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Piloting Automated Driving on European Roads

Intelligent vehicles will have a major impact on our roads and transport infrastructure. Two EU-funded initiatives are developing and testing driving functions to explore the potential of automated mobility and transport to improve road safety and traffic flow.

European researchers have tested automated technologies to enhance driver comfort and safety traffic flow and environmental performance. The AdaptIVe project tested innovations that take into account the driver’s needs and the current legal environment. “The findings feed into the hugely ambitious EU-funded L3Pilot initiative which increases understanding of how automated vehicles can be effectively integrated into Europe’s transport infrastructure” says project coordinator Aria Etemad from Volkswagen Group Research.

AdaptIVe optimised the interaction between drivers and automated technologies by applying the ‘shared control’ approach through a variety of systems, including vehicle-to-vehicle interaction, obstacle sensors, and technologies responding to driver status. Researchers also tested four of the five SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) levels of automation – namely assisted, partial, conditional and high automation, using demonstrator vehicles ranging from city cars to larger passenger cars, and a heavy goods lorry.

Development involved three scenarios: close distance, urban, and highways. Close distance testing included manoeuvring for parking or in crowded environments, at speeds of under 30 km/h. Urban scenarios involved a range of everyday traffic hazards at speeds of 10 to 70 km/h, with challenges coming from the complexity of the environment and density of traffic. Highway scenarios featured vehicles travelling up to 130 km/h, testing manoeuvres such as changing lanes and merging into traffic.

Major European initiative

Researchers applied AdaptIVe results to the L3Pilot project, the largest EU-funded study of its kind with 1 000 drivers testing 100 automated vehicles under a range of conditions across ten European countries. The initiative aims to determine the viability of automated driving as a safe and efficient means of transportation on public roads, focusing on large-scale piloting of SAE Level 3 functions, with additional assessment of some Level 4 functions.

The investigation covers a wide range of driving situations, like parking, overtaking on highways, and driving through urban intersections. The valuable data collected will help to evaluate technical aspects, user acceptance, driving and travel behaviour, and impacts on traffic and safety to create a standardised Europe-wide testing environment for automated driving. “We will then be ready to conduct large-scale field operational tests on public roads,” notes Etemad.

Safer, more efficient driving

Researchers will also collect best practices on developing automated driving functions and compile them into a Code of Practice. “This describes a typical process for designing and developing automated driving functions, including hands-on checklists and safety aspects as well as methods for confirming the safe operation of automated driving functions,” explains Etemad.

In addition, project partners will investigate the impacts of automated driving functions under different traffic conditions and determine the system’s technical robustness and cyber-security. They will also focus on the user by considering a wide range of demographic aspects such as gender and age in the evaluation of automated driving systems.

Finally, L3Pilot will draw conclusions on technical aspects, user acceptance, driving and travel behaviour, and the impact of automated driving on traffic. “We will determine the safety, efficiency, mobility and economic impact of automated driving applications. Thereby, we will consider mixed automated traffic conditions based on real-world pilot data and provide a cost-benefit analysis with respect to Europe as a whole,” Etemad points out.

Reference source: Piloting Automated Driving on European Roads

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