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The CAD Knowledge Base represents a step towards the successful integration of autonomous mobility

14 September 2020
Martin Russ

AustriaTech as an Agency of the Austrian Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology acts as an interface between industry, research and policy. We have been active in various projects on automated and connected mobility since 2014. As national contact point (NCP) on automated mobility, we also accompany national lighthouse projects and test-environments and we actively support knowledge exchange for and with the national and European eco-system. The collaboration within the project ARCADE with its knowledge base is a great example of how we can accelerate innovative trends and transformational processes. To collect and provide all relevant knowledge is a challenge in itself – as it has not only been about gathering from many different sources, but also about linking to practical actions and communities. International exchange is vital for us to harmonise the various approaches and to integrate connected and automated mobility into our transport system.

In addition, the testing of automated vehicles on public roads is another way of gathering knowhow and shaping common understanding for the development of the needed framework for connected and automated mobility. As NCP, AustriaTech is actively engaged in the process of providing test exemptions on the Austrian road network, as well as in various European projects addressing safe testing, evaluation of impacts or providing necessary digital infrastructures.  The adjustment of our infrastructure to support and benefit from automated mobility is one of the key essentials – besides being clear on impacts on environment and society – which you can only guarantee if you have the digital tools. It is important to remember that automation is actually much more than just “hands off the wheel”. A distinction must be made between what drivers or vehicles are already allowed or able to do in various situations today and what will be possible with Level 4 connected mobility services in the future. The EU-funded project INFRAMIX – coordinated by AustriaTech – is a prominent example of recent efforts regarding the role of digital infrastructure and a respective new understanding of traffic flows and traffic management solutions. In order to be able to define and classify all needed components, we’ve developed a scheme of so-called ISAD classes. ISAD – Infra Support for Automated Driving – is a simple classification scheme that indicates the level of support given by the infrastructure to automated vehicles. There are five possible levels A to E, where A represents the highest level, while E means that there is no digital infrastructure at all. The scheme is intended to support the timely introduction of infrastructure networks suitable for automation. Our first version of the scheme is focusing more or less on our European highway network. As a next step, it could be incorporated at further levels of mobility and infrastructure planning.

The International Transport Forum (ITF) for example, has just recently established a working group on “Preparing the transport infrastructure for autonomous mobility”, which we are co-chairing. Within that working group we want to achieve a common understanding on the role of different infrastructure aspects – physical, digital, data as well as regulatory and institutional – and to define common next steps together with the industry.

Another scenario, where automated mobility can be key, is dealing with connected fleets in public transport. In the past few years, especially automated shuttles have shown their potential for cities and rural areas. The project SHOW, which started this year, highlights how automated mobility can be a key enabler for the introduction of new mobility services. In many countries, such automated shuttle systems have already been tested, but there are still a lot of open questions regarding the needs and possibilities for introducing such systems in real-world operation. SHOW has the potential to define a clear pathway for anyone who is interested in the implementation of such a system in the future.

Besides the infrastructure, there are further aspects that we need to address in the near future, as the requirements for freight transport or reliable control mechanisms for all types of vehicles. In addition to achieving technical maturity, there is also a need for education and persuasion at a social level. Only by sharing our experiences and our knowledge, can we contribute to further develop the field of connected and automated mobility in a homogenous and harmonised way. With our activities, we support such initiative as the CAD Knowledgebase by letting this database continuously grow. In my opinion, the CAD platform is one step towards the development of a framework that helps policy advisors take future actions for the successful integration of autonomous mobility. And it’s our common baseline for creating an effective community of practice to fully unleash the potential of an integrated automated mobility future.

Martin Russ,

Managing Director at AustriaTech and Vice-Chair of the ITF Working Group „Preparing the transport infrastructure for autonomous mobility”.