By: Natasha Taylor
The European Road Transport Research Advisory Council (ERTRAC) is the European Technology Platform for Road Transport. Its mission is to provide a framework to focus the coordinated efforts of public and private resources on the necessary research activities.
Published in February 2022, the ERTRAC Roadmap was put together to provide “a joint stakeholder view on the long-term development of Connected, Cooperative and Automated Mobility (CCAM) in Europe”, setting out an overall vision and goals to be achieved up until 2050.
The 2050 vision is what ERTRAC is aiming to achieve for society. However, it has set out that to achieve the overall vision, there is the requirement for “necessary short-term actions”, known as ‘Agenda 2023’, which will then enable ‘Outlook to 2040’.
Separate domains develop and offer a large variety of use cases
Describes domains, use cases, and their specific characteristics
Operational agenda for research, regulation, and investments
Outlook to 2040
Use cases widen up and grow together
Explains how use cases and business models will evolve further in the next decade
Links the operational agenda with the long-term vision
Automation domains are linked; transport modes are synchronized for the benefit of all citizens
Delivers a long-term picture of road transport and its key challenges
Focused on an operational agency for research, standardization, regulation, and investments, Agenda 2030 is described as being the “core” of the overall roadmap.
Here, four main domains are highlighted: highways and corridors, confined areas, urban mixed traffic, and rural areas.
Highways and Corridors:
This domain is to enable typical applications for motorway automation, hub-to-hub truck operation, and cooperative assistance with infrastructure support, meaning that vehicles with CCAM functionality will be deployed together with infrastructure support.
On motorways, the majority of vehicles are expected to be equipped with various levels of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). Additionally, there is also the expectation that cooperative driver assistance systems will increase due to the usage of V2X technologies, together with vehicles capable of lower-level automation (L0-L2).
Multiple assisted corridors will be chosen based on their fulfillment of the necessary criteria for the deployment of CCAM vehicles with infrastructure support. These will have road infrastructure and communication system capabilities that meet the necessary requirements.
The candidate corridors will be equipped with a combination of short and long-range communication technologies that utilize the advancements made in European projects focused on 5G corridors and the C-ROADS Platform.
The assisted corridors will cater to specific traffic requirements, aiming to enhance safety, improve efficiency, and optimize network utilization.
Confined areas are typically regulated, employing perimeter protection and gates in order to prevent unauthorized entry of vehicles and people. Within these areas, there may be a mix of manually operated vehicles and other automated vehicles. Speeds within confined areas are generally lower, and specific traffic regulations may be in place.
Due to the supervision and control exercised over confined areas, the risk of unauthorized vehicle presence and vulnerable road users (VRUs) is “reduced significantly”. Examples of confined areas include closed parking areas and parking houses, logistics terminals and port areas, and bus terminals and depots.
These areas are considered to be well-suited for the early introduction of highly automated (L4) vehicles due to lower risks of any unauthorized traffic. Confined areas are hoped to enable early deployment of CCAM functionality to the previously mentioned lower speed and traffic complexity. The deployment will take place to improve safety, convenience, and productivity for the confined area operators.
Urban Mixed Traffic:
The ERTRAC Roadmap states that in the short and mid-term, one of the most important societal objectives in mobility is improving safety and efficiency in metropolitan areas and cities.
The implementation of automated driving technologies in urban environments is to achieve a range of societal goals, the main goal being increased safety by reducing road crashes caused by human error—contributing to ‘Vision Zero’ where the goal is to have no road fatalities and serious injuries by 2050. 5G-V2X sidelink technology is an example of connectivity technology that would complement other sensors and help enable higher-level automated driving. ERTRAC states that as of 2018, 38% of all EU road fatalities were in urban areas, meaning safety-enhancing measures in cities are essential.
Additionally, automated driving technologies are expected to increase the efficiency of transportation systems and reduce traffic congestion; fewer kilometers driven will lead to a decrease in energy consumption and emissions.
Accessibility and social inclusion are also to improve through the implementation of autonomous driving. Automated and inclusive on-demand mobility services will permit those with reduced mobility to have new sources of affordable and easy-to-use mobility, giving increased access to both cities and remote locations.
The end result is that automated driving will therefore allow people to “stay mobile for longer” and allow for “greater participation in social life”.
With almost 30% of communities living in rural areas, car dependence is high for this population, ERTRAC proposes that driverless vehicles provide the opportunity to improve rural mobility of people and goods.
However, rural roads present challenges for vehicles with higher levels of automation due to mixed traffic conditions, including things such as wildlife and agricultural machinery, relatively high speeds of up to 110 km/h, and variations in road infrastructure and conditions.
The short-term plan will take advantage of existing CAV systems to improve road safety in rural environments. For technology that is more mature, the goal will be to increase market uptake and further extend its functionality.
With figures stating that over 50% of EU road fatalities are caused by crashes on rural roads, the need for road safety is highest here with the potential leverage effect of autonomous driving.
The implementation of lower levels of automated driving (L1-2) is expected to make “substantial contributions” to improving road safety at relatively low costs, with higher levels of automation to increase safety even further when available.
Whilst safety is the key priority within rural areas, the implementation and deployment of autonomous driving is a key enabler for a ‘truly inclusive transport system’ that will “enhance rural quality of life”.
In addition to typical use cases applications such as Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning, and Adaptive Cruise Control, there is the added benefit of driverless shared and/or public shuttle services operation on predefined routes.
This is said to be attractive from an economic point of view, and also give further transport access to those who cannot drive themselves.
To achieve autonomous driving, the availability of up-to-date maps across rural networks, real-time traffic information, precise weather conditions, reliable connectivity, and provisional non-stationary infrastructure support is needed.
Outlook 2040 is seen as a “decade of technological maturity” which will bring benefits to society on a larger scale.
By this point, mature products are expected to be implemented, however, it will be imperative that these products have found full acceptance by mobility users to fully deliver the effects on safety, efficiency, and traffic reduction.
Challenges are expected to remain in achieving high market uptake. At this time, common requirements in relation to public procurement, in addition to global alignments of procurement principles, will be essential to ensure widespread robustness and high levels of safety in all areas. To achieve this, the involvement of citizens, regions, and cities is seen as “crucial”.
Corridors will play a big role in facilitating the implementation of use cases on highways to effectively address speed-related challenges. Once established, it will be necessary to develop standards for Intelligent Speed Adaptation (ISA) applications on said highways.
As part of this, Operational Design Domain (ODD) will be increased and enhanced to ensure that various weather conditions and road surface quality can be accounted for. Also, AI-driven decision-making for traffic interactions is to be accounted for.
High traffic density will be managed by corridors that have advanced digital infrastructure, with these corridors also offering safety advantages on hotspots. As these increase, there will also be the need for physical infrastructure, such as stop zones, to evolve in parallel.
Additionally, there will be the implementation of higher service levels, such as convoys and automated platooning, within dedicated lanes in space and/or time and/or corridors for buses and trucks. There will also be the continued development of low-speed use cases with the aim of addressing the complexities of road traffic.
Confined Areas are planned to further grow and merge into comprehensive autonomous areas for both shuttles and delivery, with the hope that use cases from these areas will receive high market uptake.
There are a range of key enablers to meet the goals set out by ERTRAC as part of ‘Outlook 2040’. At present, both a complete or temporary hand-over of the driving task from humans to a machine in automated vehicles is still “out of reach”.
In 2050, real-time connectivity will have been achieved by 100% of vehicles on the road based on the most relevant network, with transport management systems having the “appropriate quality of service level”, including remote operation.
By this time, it is stated that all newly registered vehicles will have a varying degree of automation, meaning transport modes will be synchronized in real time due to all of them being digitally connected and physically linked, providing “the best solution for any travel and transport needs” that fulfill user needs and provide safe, comfortable, and affordable transport with reduced environmental footprints.
The “majority” of shuttles, buses, and delivery vehicles within cities will operate autonomously utilizing support from a control center that will extend the range of public transport, giving access to areas that had previously been understaffed, in addition to reducing overall traffic volume.
Additionally, all vehicles operating on highways will be able to do so without immediate driver intervention, and all cars and trucks will have “very sophisticated” supporting systems; the inclusion of 5G-V2X technology is expected in such a system. These systems will enable the vehicles to autonomously react to infrastructure such as traffic lights or other vehicles at roundabouts, contributing to near-zero crashes to further reduce emissions.
Whilst there is a path to automation, ERTRAC recognizes that legacy vehicles without automation will still exist on the road, and it is essential that all vehicles have smooth interactions with one another.
Autonomous vehicles may not be able to compensate for all unpredictable behavior of road users, therefore, there will still be capability limits and the requirement for manual control to some extent, with technical failures also unable to be fully ruled out.
To make CCAM ready for wider market deployment, enabling technologies will require further advancements, such as sensor components and networks, fail-operation capabilities, communication infrastructures, cloud-based services for gathering, exchanging, and analysis of critical data at high bandwidth with short latencies, and the highest levels of data security.
A number of policies, projects, and initiatives have also been presented that support the development and implementation of Connected, Cooperative and Automated Mobility across Europe up until 2050.
You can find an overview of them here.