Transport infrastructure and requirements for autonomous vehicles

In the near future, autonomous vehicles will be driving on the roads alongside with conventional vehicles and road users. However, driverless cars still face some technical challenges that must be solved to allow a safe and efficient journey in this transition period. The road infrastructure can contribute to this by supporting autonomous vehicles in their driving task. In this context, the interplay between vehicles and infrastructure becomes more important than ever.

The vision of via-AUTONOM is to build a new Austrian reference of road infrastructure, which satisfies the requirements of autonomous vehicles and all other road users, in terms of safety, efficiency and comfort. The interdisciplinary team of experts in via-AUTONOM aspires to find answers on the following research questions: 1) What are the requirements for the existing road infrastructure regarding the introduction of autonomous vehicles? 2) Which new forms and technologies of road infrastructure facilitate safe and efficient automated road transport? 3) How can the road infrastructure contribute to the optimization of automated driving functions such as lane planning, proactive driving behaviour, pre-crash support or enhanced electronic horizon? 4) Where are the critical spots in a road network, showing increased risks concerning road safety, traffic flow and driving comfort with automated vehicles in traffic? 5) Which infrastructure and vehicle data are relevant to support autonomous driving, and how can they be combined?

The project aims to investigate road infrastructure measures that have the highest effectiveness for the transition period with automated vehicles and non-automated road users. Another objective is to identify where those measures must be implemented. To this end, via-AUTONOM develops a risk model, which identifies critical spots and road sections (e.g. intersections, roadwork zones, curves with limited sight distance) concerning a future penetration of automated vehicles. Based on this, the effectiveness of a predefined set of infrastructure measures and the impact of varying availability and quality of different data sources will be studied by means of simulation methods. By doing so, road safety and traffic flow can be evaluated. The project primarily focusses on non-urban roads, i.e. motorways, primary and main rural roads. For urban areas, a small-scale feasibility study will be conducted in parallel to the simulation-based effectiveness study. This feasibility study will show to which extent the approach used and requirements identified in via-AUTONOM can be applied to urban areas.

The results of via-AUTONOM comprise a set of recommendations for infrastructure measures to support automated driving, a method to identify critical road spots and sections in the Austrian road network as well as a conceptual architecture for the efficient use of data from vehicles, infrastructure and digital maps.