The final conference for the European CoExist project was held on 25 and 26 March 2020. Originally intended to take place in Milton Keynes, one of the project’s partner towns, the Covid-19 crisis ultimately forced it to be conducted in video conference form instead. The purpose of the CoExist project, launched in 2017 with a budget of 3.5 million euros, is to prepare for the transition phase during which roads will be shared by self-driving and conventional vehicles. The goal: to assist road authorities and local governments to plan for a road network incorporating various levels of automation, traditional vehicles, and other road users. By simulating the incorporation of self-driving vehicles into traffic flows in 4 European towns and cities, the project analysed the consequences of the presence of these new vehicles on urban road infrastructure. We take a close look at a project in which Vedecom’s expertise with self-driving vehicles proved enormously beneficial.

Building a bridge between self-driving vehicles and infrastructure planning

If the introduction of self-driving vehicles is to live up to its promises in terms of reducing road space and improving traffic efficiency and safety, vehicle design and urban infrastructure planning are key issues to be considered. This is the challenge addressed by the European CoExist project, bringing together 17 partners from 7 European countries (Germany, Belgium, France, Italy, Netherlands, the UK and Sweden), representing industry, academic institutions and local government. Their task was to study the feasibility and consequences of introducing automated smart vehicles in terms of impacts on traffic flow, the environment (greenhouse gases and CO2) and noise pollution in an urban environment, in a few highly specific use cases.

Three key stages in modelling traffic for 4 European cities

The project followed three key stages in the development of transport and infrastructure. The first step was to validate extensions of existing transport models at micro and macro level, including different types of self-driving vehicles with varying levels of automation. The second step was to develop an assessment tool that would simulate the impacts of these autonomous vehicles on safety, traffic flow and infrastructure changes – using a variety of different ramp-up scenarios for self-driving vehicles in such environments. Lastly, these tools were applied to eight use cases in four European towns and cities: Gothenburg (SWE), Stuttgart (DE), Helmond (NL) and Milton Keynes (GB). The end goal was to produce directives for designing hybrid infrastructure that is equally capable of supporting conventional and automated vehicles, thus providing the smoothest possible transition phase.


VEDECOM : the CoExist project’s self-driving vehicle expert

VEDECOM’s partnership and expertise was invaluable in implementing the project. The Institute agreed to the use of control models for autonomous vehicles that were exactly the same as for VEDECOM’s self-driving vehicle prototypes, and their software adaptations. These were incorporated into the VISSIM application produced by PTV Group, which was then able to simulate fleets of self-driving vehicles and shuttles on the roads of partner towns, which were themselves modelled using the solution.

VEDECOM was also involved in research into the interpretation and analysis of data regarding the economic and environmental impacts of the gradual introduction of such autonomous vehicles into urban areas. Lastly, it provided analysis into the system’s feasibility and the infrastructure modifications required.

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