Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) have evolved drastically during the past two decades, transitioning from basic traffic management to Co-operative ITS (C-ITS), driven by connected and automated vehicles. In this article, TN-ITS vice-president Suku Phull delves into the rapid CCAM advancement.
Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) have evolved over the last 20 years from simple traffic signals, traffic detectors, and signs operated by human operators, into interconnected systems connecting and interfacing more directly to individual users with increasing levels of automated control through the emergence of connected and automated vehicle technologies. This change has occurred through a wide range of research and development initiatives initially in isolation and subsequently by collaboration, leading to the progressive development of a range of agreed principles and standards.
These more recent developments are intended to enable data sharing between systems to deliver a wide range of transport related socio-economic benefits; within Europe these are generally termed ‘Co-operative ITS’ (C-ITS) services and embrace infrastructure-to-vehicle (I2V), vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I), and vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication.
Cooperative, Connected and Automated Mobility
Cooperative, connected and automated mobility (CCAM) will play an important role in achieving transportation policy goals and managing our transport network more effectively in the future. However, the costs, benefits, and effectiveness of the technologies deployed to some degree vary depending on national priorities, existing infrastructure, and network characteristics.
The rapid pace of technological development offers the prospect that driving will change significantly over the next quarter century. Increased connectivity and automation of driving functions has the potential, for example, to save lives and provide real-time contextual traffic and travel information to the traveller, increasing citizen mobility and helping to ensure that we have a socially balanced inclusive transportation network.
Connectivity and autonomous vehicle systems have never been closer to reality than they are today: there is a lot of activity in this area on the world’s roads, and some experts have predicted that between 2020 and 2040, connectivity and some level of autonomous vehicles will be quite normal in our lives. Although this will be an iterative process, but to make it a reality in practise it will require number of key components such as a fully digitised transport infrastructure and some means of communication between vehicle to vehicle (V2V), Vehicle to Infrastructure, and vehicle to everything else (V2X).
The so-called “digital twin” consists of high-quality digital map data that enables many services to be delivered to drivers in real time. Although many OEMs are pushing for different levels of autonomy using sensors, it is important to understand that HD maps enable cars to see beyond their sensors and can therefore play a complementary role by correlating what the sensors see with the reality captured in the map.
EU-funded knowledge sharing platforms such as C-Road and CCAM comprising members from the EU are testing a number of use cases of cooperative intelligent transport systems (C- ITS) and automation based on the standards and specifications developed for providing interoperable services across borders. Several use cases specified by these platforms require HD mapping data contained in TROs such as width and height restrictions, speed limits, one-way systems, and any updates or changes that are made. Therefore, it is crucial that digital maps are highly current with respect to safety and efficiency critical attributes. Map providers cannot easily keep their maps up to date for such attributes, while up-to-date maps are critical for networked and autonomous applications. Inconsistent data across many EU member states has resulted in poor quality maps that do not match ground truth. In the UK alone, there are many transport authorities (330 in England plus the devolved administrations) producing circa 30,000 TROs annualy. Extrapolating this across 27 member states equates to a major challenge in keeping maps refreshed.
The EU-funded platform TN-ITS provides a suitable platform for sharing information on changes of static road attributes, i.e. attributes that are generally of a permanent nature, even if they sometimes change, such as speed limits. The focus is therefore on road attributes based on authoritative data from road authorities. The TN-ITS CEN TS 17268 is a technical specification maintained by the European Standards Organisation CEN under its Technical Committee 278, Road Transport and Traffic Telematics. It is important that digital maps are highly up to date for attributes that are critical in terms of safety and efficiency. Map providers cannot easily keep their maps up to date for such attributes for the reasons already mentioned, while up-to-date maps are essential for CCAM applications.
As a result of trials, pilots, initiatives, schemes, and projects across several member states, standards and specifications are being developed that will allow CCAM services to be deployed more widely in the future, but we are not there yet- cyber security, privacy, data sharing, and data quality are just some of the big challenges to face.
Aligned to this, the Department for Transport (DfT) in the UK has been implementing data sharing initiatives within road transport including, Connected Vehicle Data Research project, Local Transport Data Discovery, Bus Open Data Service, Find Transport Data (NAP), Digital Traffic Regulation Orders, TN-ITS, and many more. DfT’s ‘One Network’ vision establishes the need to create a holistic transport network that brings various digital initiatives together in a harmonised way. Connected Services (including C-ITS) play a key role in this.