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What’s driving the European strategy on connected and driverless cars?

Submitted by on 20 Sep 2018 – 18:01

The European Commission will propose a new legislation on what technological solutions can be used to underpin connected cars that are brought onto the market in Europe. Maja Bakran Marcich, Deputy Director-General, DG MOVE, offers a curtain raiser of the upcoming legislation

We must pursue several goals at the same time — to make European mobility safer and more accessible, to make European industry more competitive, to make European jobs more secure, and to be cleaner and better adapted to the imperative of tackling climate change.

We achieved great progress in the past decades and the EU has the world’s safest roads. Nevertheless, in 2016 alone, 25,500 people lost their lives on EU roads and a further 135,000 people were seriously injured, causing great human suffering and costs estimated at €100 billion annually.

The roads are also responsible for over 70 % of greenhouse gas emissions from transport and urban breaches of air pollution limits. The results are serious: premature deaths in the EU due to transport-related pollution are nearly three times higher than road fatalities.
Finally, the dominance of the car has had huge implications on how we design our cities and transport networks. It not only allows people to live further from work and leisure, but also leads to congestion, causing inefficiencies estimated at 1% of EU Gross Domestic Product (€100 billion) and rising.

In this context, the Commission proposes a comprehensive EU approach towards connected and automated mobility. We propose a clear, forward-looking and ambitious European agenda that provides a common vision and identifies clear supporting actions for developing and deploying key technologies, services and infrastructure.

The first milestone, however, was laid earlier, on 30th November 2016, when the Commission adopted its strategy on Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (C-ITS). Such systems connect all road users and traffic managers, enabling them to share and use information in real time and allowing coordination of their actions at an entirely new level. The strategy identified a clear list of initial services and defined a hybrid approach for communication technologies to deliver them.

• Combining complementary technologies with different advantages.
• Making sure the system is unaware of which technology is used, thereby easing the integration of future technologies (e.g. 5G).
• Acknowledging that, today, this hybrid approach combines 3G/4G and ITS-G5. Both are mature, tested and already-deployed technologies.

Both are also complementary, as 3G/4G leverages the coverage of existing networks and ITS-G5 offers low latency for safety-related services.
The strategy also announced the adoption, by the end of 2018, of a delegated regulation under the Intelligent Transport Systems Directive. The main idea behind this delegated regulation is to ensure interoperability (making sure everybody is connected to everybody), backward compatibility (making sure everybody remains connected to everybody) and continuity of services (making sure everybody benefits from the same road safety and traffic efficiency services).

This is essential to accelerate EU-wide deployment, to give legal certainty to investors and early adopters and, most importantly, to ensure maximum road safety and traffic efficiency for all road users as soon as possible. It will contribute to the safe system approach to road safety and should start today, rather than waiting for the development and rollout of new technologies.

Successful deployment also requires cooperation, not only between different companies, but also between vastly different industries. This we already see happening today; vehicle manufacturers and technology suppliers are working on interoperable communications and governments and road authorities are also doing the same on the C-ROADS platform.

This is, however, only the first step in a much longer process.

Today, C-ITS is about creating awareness and sharing information in real time, but soon C-ITS will start integrating automation. First, this could be preparing the braking system for an emergency stop. Next, the vehicle could initiate emergency stops on its own. Later still, emergency stops could largely disappear as vehicles share their intentions and cooperate at an even more fundamental level. Ultimately, vehicles will coordinate all manoeuvres and we hope to achieve Vision Zero, meaning no road fatalities.

Deploying now will not only reap road safety benefits sooner, but will also secure a lead in preparing for a more automated future and a competitive advantage for the Union. This is important as citizens’ mobility demands are growing and their attitude to mobility is changing. They want to shift seamlessly between different modes of transport and enjoy ease of access to travel information.

Meanwhile, vehicles are becoming increasingly clean, connected and automated, and, ultimately, could be driverless and zero-emission.
This opens the possibility for vehicles to become an integral part of multimodal mobility, providing first- and last-mile services and inclusive solutions for elderly, disabled and young people.

As you can see, the future of mobility, and the place of the end user in it, is at the centre of our thinking and our actions. We must keep looking through the forest of challenges and interactions, new technologies and business models, and keep our eye on our goal. Mobility is the cornerstone of freedom of movement of people and goods, which is fundamental to the smooth functioning of the EU