The European Commission has released an overview of its recent EU-funded support action VRA (Vehicle and Road Automation network). The Commission reports that the project has contributed significantly to furthering research and development on driverless vehicles. ‘Automation helps solve societal problems, addressing road safety, multimodality, pollution, jobs and competitiveness,’ says Dr Maxime Flament, coordinator of the VRA project.
To achieve this, VRA established a cooperation network involving different research and stakeholder communities who met and exchanged their views on vehicle and road automation. ‘This represents the next revolution in road transport and a new paradigm shift. It may turn good or bad depending on how it’s introduced,’ says Dr Flament. ‘By simply putting new automation technologies in the vehicles you can save lives of both drivers and pedestrians.’ Apart from increased safety and less pollution, palpable advantages for users include more predictable and less expensive journeys, seamless transport, increased mobility for ageing populations and more free time to engage in other activities.
Overall, VRA successfully mapped the considerations, mechanisms and associated technologies required for driverless vehicles. The project’s outcomes are now being exploited by follow-up projects, including the EU-funded project CARTRE (Coordination of automated road transport deployment for Europe). These projects are identifying how all these challenges can be overcome and who will address them, in addition to overseeing coordination and knowledge transfer among research initiatives and test bed sites. All these enterprising initiatives leave no room for doubt about the future of automated road transport.
From Bavaria in Germany and Trikala in Greece to Versailles in France and Gothenburg in Sweden, automated cars are currently being tested around Europe as part of the upcoming transport revolution. Driverless vehicles are expected to bring numerous benefits to society. The future of road transport is heading towards driverless vehicles, a development that is slated to make roads safer, less congested and more environmentally friendly. As many as 30 million automated or partially automated vehicles are expected to be sold in 2035, with an expected reduction in CO2 emissions of up to 60 %.