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Use of auto vehicles affects action, safety, environment

14 Apr 2019, 19:28 ( 3 Months ago) | updated: 14 Apr 2019, 20:14 ( 3 Months ago)

DF Report
An autonomous vehicle.Photo by VTT.

A broad study carried out by the Transport and Communications Agency Traficom investigated the expected growth in numbers of automated vehicles in Finland and the impacts of such vehicles in areas such as the role, activities and expenses of road maintenance bodies and public authorities.

Traficom’s study involved a comprehensive examination of the situation and impacts of high automation driving (level 4) in Finland and elsewhere in Europe,said Traficom in a press release.

The investigation covered five different automatic transport applications. 

According to the study, the growth of high automation functions in Finland will be slow to begin with due to the slow pace of vehicle stock renewal, reaching an estimated 1–8% by 2030. By 2040, however, the percentage is estimated to be between 16 and 71%, depending on the application in question.

‘The transition to automated traffic is a huge step in the journey towards new transport services. For shared cars, the level of use of automated cars is high, and thus the quantity of cars needed is also smaller than for private use. The impacts are positive for traffic flow and safety, as well as for the environment and parking space’, comments Traficom’s Director-General Kirsi Karlamaa.

Increased use of automated driving also affects the duties and roles of road maintenance providers and public authorities. Road maintenance bodies have to make sure that the digital infrastructure meets the requirements for automation and ensure the continuity of the operating environment. Regulating authorities, on the other hand, have to prepare themselves for coordinating vehicle testing, developing the type approval system, and changes to the driver-vehicle relationship.

ODDs (Operational Design Domain) helped to define where and when the vehicle can be used for automated driving. Using this general term, clarity can be provided for mapping out the levels, areas of application and requirements for automation.

‘For the users, what is important is that the ODD has as large a coverage and continuity as possible. For example, high automation motorway pilot projects should function in as varied weather conditions and road conditions as possible, and regardless of the state of the road signs. Traficom’s study is one proposal for the required ODD functions’, explains Chief Adviser Eetu Pilli-Sihvola.

The cost of automated transport systems is set by technological development. Currently, some of the elements needed for automation are expensive, but the costs will change significantly by 2040. One of the reasons for this is the falling prices resulting from technological development.