Europe to fund new road projects as autonomous trials go public

26 June 2017

Europe to fund new road projects as autonomous trials go public

26 June 2017

Connected transport initiatives will benefit from a €2.7 billion European Commission investment into key transport projects, to support clean and competitive mobility on the continent. 

In order to deliver on its ‘Investment Plan for Europe’ and its ‘Europe on the Move’ agenda, the amount will be shared amongst air, rail and road projects, with investment in upgrading road transport and developing Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) reaching €359.2 million. This will include development of a high-speed electric vehicle charging network across Sweden, Denmark, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Italy as well as looking at infrastructure preparation for autonomous vehicles.  

The Europe on the Move vision is set out on three pillars: CleanFair and Competitive; and Connected. Under the ‘Clean’ strategy, EU member states will be free to introduce road charging, although there needs to be some common principles in place, including charging for distance driven rather than time to reflect usage and pollution, and charges based on emissions performance, a plan it put forward in April 2017. The Commission is also working on post-2020/2021 CO2 targets for cars and vans, and on the first-ever CO2 targets for heavy duty vehicles. The Commission also wants to improve the alternative fuel infrastructure throughout the continent to aid promotion of electric vehicles (EVs).   

EU Commissioner for Transport, Violeta Bulc comments: ‘The demand for investment in transport infrastructure is huge. This new wave of investment focuses on clean, innovative and digital projects to modernise Europe's transport network. Today we are one step closer to a true Transport Union, serving the needs of citizens, stimulating the economy and creating jobs. Looking ahead, I am inviting stakeholders to make best use of the remaining funds, using blending to maximise impact and leverage all possible resources.’ 

The package could also include a minimum quota for electric cars (EVs) on the new car market, similar to a plan coming in for China. This would mean that manufacturers need to add EVs to their range to ensure they can meet a minimum quota, which would then lead to a reduction in CO2 emissions around Europe. 

The news comes as the UK’s largest collaborative trial of connected and autonomous vehicle technology has been given approval to move out of testing facilities and onto city streets. The Autodrive consortium achieved the agreement following a successful completion of track testing and demonstrations.  

Project partners Jaguar Land Rover, Ford and Tata Motors European Technical Centre (TMETC) came together at the Horiba MIRA Proving Ground to demonstrate a series of connected car technologies that are now ready to be trialled on the roads of UK cities Milton Keynes and Coventry. 

The three vehicle manufacturers are working in the Autodrive project to jointly research and develop autonomous technology, with funding from both the UK Government and automotive industry. It is the first project in the UK to showcase the benefits of having cars that can talk to each other across multiple makes of car.  

The first demonstration (Emergency Vehicle Warning) showcased cars that can warn their drivers when an emergency vehicle is approaching – as well as indicating its direction – minimising congestion and potentially reducing the time it takes for ambulances, police cars and fire engines to reach their destination.  

During the second demonstration (Intersection Collision Warning), the connected cars were able to detect the presence of other connected cars on approach to a junction, and warn whenever there was a high probability of a collision.  

The third demonstration involved ‘In-Vehicle Signage’, whereby connected cars can receive traffic information sent from road-side units, ensuring that drivers do not miss out on important notifications, such as changes of speed limit or temporary lane closures. 

Tim Armitage, Arup’s UK Autodrive project director, comments: ‘The successful completion of the proving ground trials marks a significant milestone for the project team, and we are now looking forward to demonstrating the benefits of these exciting new technologies in the real-world settings of Milton Keynes and Coventry. Once the technology becomes widely available, we anticipate huge potential benefits in terms of road safety, improved traffic flow and general access to transport, so we’re really excited about being able to demonstrate this on real roads.’ 

The first set of public road trials are due to take place in Milton Keynes and Coventry by the end of 2017, on segregated sections of road, before moving to open public roads by the time the project closes in the summer of 2018.

 

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