2017 Innovation Workshop tackles transition to automated vehicles

Global policy and technical leaders met in the Netherlands for iRAP’s 2017 Innovation Workshop, looking at the road infrastructure, safety and investment priorities associated with the transition to highly automated vehicles.  Innovation 2017 was hosted by EuroRAP and the Royal Dutch Automobile Club (ANWB), with support from the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), the FIA Foundation and the Road Safety Fund.

iRAP CEO Rob McInerney, said the Workshop’s focus comes at a critical time with advancing technologies requiring the prioritisation and integration of roads and vehicle investment to ensure safety and value from the money spent.

“The experts recognised that while ITS and connected vehicle trials are being conducted by a number of progressive road authorities and private enterprises, fleet rotation will mean that it will take more than 20 years before autonomous vehicles make up the majority of the fleet.  Mixed fleets will continue to be in existence for even longer at the global level and developments for vulnerable road users will also need to be progressed.  In terms of infrastructure the implications are that investment in forgiving and self-explaining roads that both humans and cars can read will be essential to safety during the long transition period. In particular, specific attention is needed on lines and signs as well as busy single carriageway roads where most deaths, travel and expenditure occur.” he said.

In terms of vehicles it was recognised that the initial priorities must continue to focus on the “Safe Driving Car” while continuous research, application and legislative frameworks are developed for the “Self Driving Car”.  Legislating key vehicle technologies like Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), Lane Keeping, Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Intelligent Speed Adaptation will deliver immediate results and help accelerate the understanding of the legislative process needed for the vehicles of the future.

The iRAP Innovation Workshop was held from 8-10 November at the Automotive Campus in Helmond and was attended by 50 global leaders representing global road authorities, motoring clubs, vehicle manufacturers, RAP and Global NCAP partners, research institutions and technology leaders like NXP, TNO and Google. The delegates will all play a significant role in ensuring that safer infrastructure and safer vehicles deliver their potential in creating a safe road and transport system.

The 2 day programme included sessions on policy innovation, the vehicle and infrastructure relationship, the power and application of data, urban innovation, near term investment, and priorities for the future. The presentation of successful global case studies as well as onsite tours of Helmond’s Automotive Campus provided practical learnings including an understanding of the needs of emergency first responders as they deal with new vehicle technologies in crashed vehicles.

“5-star vehicles on 5-star roads are key to our attainment of Vision Zero and the UN Decade of Action goal to halve road deaths and injuries,” EuroRAP Chairman Mr Ferry Smith said.

The iRAP Innovation Workshop, held annually, showcases leading innovation in road infrastructure policy, technology, investment and design driving life-saving outcomes around the world.  Previous year’s workshops were held in Washington, the UK and Melbourne.