Connected and automated vehicles potentially offer solutions to some key challenges for National Road Authorities (NRAs), such as reduction of accidents, increasing network capacity and extending mobility to those who are unable to drive. As a result of this potential, both industry and certain national governments are undertaking trials to test the technology for specific scenarios and also to understand the human acceptance and perception of such systems. There are numerous test sites, both on and off road, which have started around the globe to test automated and connected technology for a number of applications. These generally fall into the following categories:
- Test sites of automated vehicles on tracks, with or without a driver, at low and high speeds;
- Testing of vehicles on the road, with a driver ready to take over at low or high speeds;
- Testing of low speed pods in urban areas for specific applications;
- Testing of vehicle platoons, operated through V2X communication.
Far less attention has been paid to questions around the implications for NRAs, both positive (e.g. narrower lanes and closer running significantly increasing capacity) and negative (e.g. narrower lanes and closer running increasing rutting and pavement damage), around what, if any additional requirements will be required in terms of e.g. improved white line road marking quality or 5G capacity, or what might become redundant, e.g. distance signs. With the exception of road safety, less attention still, has been paid to the key issues to 2040 of traffic efficiency, environment and customer service and some of the practical, day to day implications for NRAs such as the potential for automated inspections, surveys, maintenance and repair.
The 24-month STAPLE (SiTe Automation Practical Learning) project, which started on 01 September 2018, aims to provide a comprehensive review of technological and non-technological aspects of the most relevant connected and automated driving test sites in order to understand the impact of these sites on the NRA’s core business and functions. This project will provide NRAs with the necessary know-how on connected and automated driving test sites, with the aim of supporting their core business activities, such as road safety, traffic efficiency, customer service, maintenance and construction.