A step by step introduction of automation
As the construction of new roads is an expensive and time consuming project while Europe has already a quite mature road network, and considering the fact that roads have a quite long lifecycle (especially compared with vehicles), the only way to prepare our existing road network for automation is through targeted interventions both physical and digital. This is even more important for the long transition period where we expect a step by step introduction of automation and mixed traffic on roads with different capabilities and installed equipment. In this respect, INFRAMIX is expected to have an important impact as it will deliver specific solutions with tangible integrated interventions, both physical and digital. These will be tested and validated beforehand through the use of innovative modelling technologies (new traffic flow models and advanced simulation tools) guaranteeing this way their efficiency, traffic safety but also users’ appreciation and acceptance.
This set of interventions will be adaptable and incremental to cope with a variety of existing infrastructure (old, new, etc.) and diverse traffic scenarios (percentage of automated vehicles, of connected vehicles etc.). The fact that they will also be tested in quite demanding scenarios on the actual road networks of the consortium partners will ensure that the proposed scenarios will be realistic and aligned with modern road design and engineering principles.
If automated and connected vehicles enter our roads in an uncoordinated way, without the actual support from the road infrastructure, the traffic flow will be degraded, at least in the beginning, making the current situation regarding congestion and emissions worse. INFRAMIX will exactly tackle this issue and it is anticipated at least at the beginning to keep the traffic flow and efficiency uninterrupted at today levels where conventional vehicles are prevailing. Over the longer term it is anticipated to improve mixed traffic flow (thus minimizing emissions) by at least 15-20% compared to existing traffic situation due to the novel control strategies for mixed traffic and the physical and digital infrastructure developments of INFRAMIX. Apart from the associated costs for the construction of new roads the related emissions are not negligible. Through the minimum set of proposed adaptations in the physical and digital infrastructure the environmental footprint of the needed construction works for new road segments will be minimized, since the interventions, at least in the first period will be kept minimal.
The gradual insertion of different levels of automated vehicles on the roads will substantially improve mobility solutions for a major part of our population, such as the elderly, young (without a driving license) and mobility impaired people. Thus relieving their families and/or friends from the burden of transporting them on the one hand, and making them more social inclusive on the other hand. INFRAMIX will significantly contribute towards their improved mobility options and social inclusion by supporting the step-wise introduction of automated vehicles and taking care of the transition period and mixed traffic scenarios, paving the way for introduction of fully automated transport systems in the far future
Through the new traffic flow models, the simulator tools and the novel control strategies developed within INFRAMIX, tailored to the needs of the transition period and mixed traffic scenarios, city planners and road operators will be able to make informed decisions on how to upgrade their road network to cope with the new challenges posed by the insertion of different levels of automated vehicles in conventional traffic. In addition, the proposed classification scheme for road infrastructure matched with automation-appropriate levels, as well as the new safety performance criteria for mixed traffic flows developed within INFRAMIX will further support the everyday operations of this group of stakeholders.
INFRAMIX with the introduction of innovative products and services, such as the enhanced electronic horizon, the new electronic and visual signals, that will be designed and validated in real operational environments with real users, is anticipated to have a high industrial impact in different domains. Managing the transition period and the interactions of automated and conventional vehicles and the road infrastructure (mixed traffic), towards connected integrated road transport solutions will create a leap in the European competitiveness of the transport industry, while new market opportunities will arise for a wide set of stakeholders.
The related research work performed within INFRAMIX, from traffic flow models to electronic and visual signals is available to the research community through an open access strategy. “Downloads” contains INFRAMIX publications as well as research work available to the public.
The simulation tools used and advanced throughout the project, will be also available and could be used by other researchers for carrying out similar research work through open APIs and academic license agreements. VSimRTI is free of charge for the research and academic community and the add-ons of INFRAMIX will be also made freely available for research purposes. In addition, VIF will make available the cosimulation platform ICOS to all the project partners free of charge including also support for installation and 1stLevel-Support. All the above will have significant impact and benefits for the research community.