The European project C-ROADS Czech Republic has been inaugurated
According to recent estimations 10 million connected and autonomous cars supposed to be deployed worldwide by 2020. In order to prepare the Czech Republic for this kind of development the European C-ROADS project has been launched. Concluded in 2020, it is supposed to bring many improvements in road safety in Europe and lay foundations for using cooperative ITS systems and highly automated driving systems, including the autonomous vehicles.
Within the framework of the C-ROADS Czech Republic, C-ITS systems will be deployed not only on the D1, D5 and D11 motorways but also in the cities, public transport systems and on level railway crossings as well. The testing of the contemporary V2V technologies as well as the newest ones constitutes important aspect of the project. “The automotive industry and transport sector are the areas of swift technological development. The car manufacturers are testing not only alternative forms of engines but automated steering functions as well,” says Dan Ťok, minister of transport. “Some testing car models are already equipped with technologies realizing data communication with traffic road side systems. The main goal is to develop vehicles able to communicate with each other and with transport infrastructure, e. g. in case of automatic transmission of information related to icy roads or approaching emergency vehicle on mission that could help the driver to adjust driving behavior,” adds Mr. Ťok.
The project is coordinated by the Ministry of Transport and is co-funded by CEF Transport funding mechanism. In total, eight partners cooperate on the project, namely: AŽD Praha, ČVUT (Czech Technical University in Prague), INTENS Corporation, O2 Czech Republic, T-Mobile Czech Republic, ŘSD (operator of the national motorway and 1st class roads network), SŽDC (operator of the nation-wide and regional railway infrastructure owned by the state) and Brněnské komunikace (operator of the street network of the Brno city). Several other organizations, institutions and companies from public and private sector such as Plzeňské městské dopravní podniky (Public Transport Company of the Pilsen city), Dopravní podnik Ostrava (Public Transport Company of the Ostrava city) or ŠKODA AUTO are involved in the project as well. Total project costs will reach almost 19 million EUR (including costs dedicated to testing, evaluation, cross-border traffic flow and international negotiations of new standards).
All project partners are responsible for its own activities such as LTE-V testing (T-Mobile Czech Republic) or technical solution verification for hybrid communication (ITS G5 and LTE) car unit for automated data exchange between vehicles (O2). ŘSD will aim at realization of road-side infrastructure alongside motorways, BKOM will aim at deployment of C-ITS technologies on main access streets to Brno, INTENS will deal with technical coordination and standardization, ČVUT will focus on test outcomes evaluation. Information about all consortium projects are available at project website: www.c-roads.cz
How does the C-ITS unit works?
Current version of C-ITS vehicle unit is a device, which communicates directly on assigned radio frequency of 5,9 GHz (ITS G5) with its “counterparts” on road infrastructure and in other vehicles. There are several solutions (devices) available on the market with whose any car can be equipped. The car manufacturers have committed themselves to equip selected car models with these technologies after 2019. It will be possible to buy this technology for older car models as well – the unit price will be approximately several thousand CZK.
Simultaneously, options how to use so called “hybrid system” using radio frequency 5,9 GHz (ITS G5) and current (LTE) or new (LTE-V, 5G) technologies in the context of the proper signal coverage and for offered safety services improvement are being verified. Equipped vehicles will receive safety information to show them to the driver in form of voice and/or visual (symbol) warning announcement on onboard display or dashboard or as a part of navigation system. An integration of incoming messages into vehicle driving systems that will lead to automated prevention of accident or development of dangerous situation. “We are looking for solutions able to warn the driver about potential risks both visually and acoustically on time, inform them about remaining trip time, congestions or any other risks but simultaneously preventing driver’s distraction,” specified Mr. Ťok.
Testing is already in progress on selected motorway sections (D1, D0 and D5 motorway), where C-ITS road-side units were installed on ITS existing infrastructure and on selected maintenance vehicles. These devices are transmitting information about road sings status on variable message signs and portal to their surrounding or devices for traffic operational information. “Information are shown on variable information panels or signs and simultaneously to the driver in the vehicle. It is especially important in cases of variable speed limits on VMS portals or devices for dynamical closing of road lanes before tunnels as the drivers quite often do not respect these kinds of sings,” added Minister Ťok.
ŘSD maintenance vehicles are equipped with C-ITS units together with mobile maintenance trailers marking short-term road works on motorways. Insufficient marking of road works combined with driver’s weariness are the reasons for large number of accidents, often with serious or fatal injuries. Recently, these vehicles and mobile trailers are transmitting information about their position to their surroundings or sending information about lines closures or speed limits. Therefore the driver is informed about such situation (closure or limitation) sooner that it is possible to see it. It significantly reduces the risk of an accident. In the same time these vehicles are sending online information about their position and operations to the ŘSD server so the service centers have actual overview about their fleet.
Over the next few years it will be necessary to deal with legislative and ethical issues related to higher SAE levels (e. g. to define clearly driver and producer liability). The transport sector in the Czech Republic is not yet fully prepared for operation of fully autonomous vehicles with no driver but there are already some partial construction projects under development. Project representatives are, with a coordination with the Ministry of Transport, taking part in international standardization conferences and forums, organizing internal expert debates and trying to prepare the Czech transport sector for the future.