A milestone for mobility in Europe
With the adoption of the C-ITS Delegated Act, the European Commission has set the course for well-coordinated development efforts in the area of Vehicle2x communication and hence for the smart digitalization of Europe’s road network.
The key benefit of this innovative communication technology, which allows vehicles to communicate with each other and the traffic infrastructure, is a significant improvement of road safety.
Mobile society is in for a paradigm change, maybe the biggest one since the first Ford Model-T rolled off the conveyor belt in the early 20th century.
Cooperative, connected and automated mobility opens up completely new opportunities for increasing safety and efficiency in traffic.
On the technological level, the path to automation and digitalization is virtually clear already today.
What the innovative players need the most now are well-defined regulatory frameworks that ensure that all stakeholders will pull together preferably always in the same direction.
One such framework has now been created by the European Commission: the C-ITS Del-egated Act.
In unison with other important players in this field, Siemens endorses the contents of this Act since they will facilitate the large-scale deployment of cooperative traffic systems.
The decisive benefit of Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (C-ITS) is that they will make traffic on Europe’s roads safer and more efficient besides improving the flow of traffic and reducing traffic-related pollutant levels, not to forget their important role for the further development of autonomous vehicles.
C-ITS are networks of vehicles and smart infrastructure using defined communication channels to exchange, almost in real time, information on traffic and environmental conditions, e.g. on congestion and roadworks or traffic-relevant hazards.
C-ITS applications will be implemented on public roads and serve a public purpose.
This is why they need to operate as a separate communication eco- system where each and every C-ITS station can communicate with any other and the connected vehicles, independent of geographical borders, technologies and manufacturers.
What is more, the Delegated Act will also help clear the path to the trouble-free coexistence of C-ITS applications with the large number of electronic tolling systems already deployed in Europe.
This is essential since the digital tachographs for tolling will only work reliably in an interference-free environment.
In essence, Siemens and other companies involved in this technological field have four top priorities that are now being addressed by the C-ITS Delegated Act:
For truly significant progress in terms of road safety, the vehicles and the road infrastructure elements need to use a common, uniform language to communicate in the dedicated exclusive frequency band and without interferences. A fragmented C-ITS market would constitute a serious obstacle to this.
› Backward compatibility
Funds spent on C-ITS are long-term investments, in parallel to the life- cycles of roadside infrastructure. Hence investment security is crucial, for vehicle and infrastructure providers as well as for vehicle users.
Backward compatibility ensures trouble-free communication between older and newly registered cars within the networked systems. Also in future, this safety-relevant technology must not be to the exclusive benefit of new car buyers.
C-ITS applications need to be compatible among each other. But it is equally important that they do not interfere with the radio communication required for communication between the electronic tolling systems installed on nearly 50,000 road kilometers across the EU already and the mandatory digital tachographs in the trucks that use them.
C-ITS applications require a cybersecurity infrastructure allowing every C-ITS station to check if a transmitting C-ITS station is authorized to communicate within the specific ecosystem and if the relayed information is credible and approved.
This system needs to cover all vehicles and road infrastructures within the European Union, regardless of the individual country, traffic management system, vehicle brands and communication technologies involved in each individual case.
In the view of the market and technology leaders in the area of C-ITS, the Delegated Act of the European Commission follows the hybrid-communication concept as set out in the 5G Action Plan COM (2016) 588, i.e.
the combination of the already existing short range communication technology ITS-G5 (IEEE 802.11p) with two cellular communication technologies: 4G, which is already in use today, and the emerging 5G technology.
It clearly reflects the ITS Directive 2010/40/EU and applies exclusively to players planning to deploy C-ITS use cases.
The companies active in the C-ITS market are convinced that the Delegated Act creates precisely the kind of legal certainty needed to allow the deployment of the corresponding innovative applications in the shortest possible time and with maximum geographical coverage.
It will also enable fast market entrance for new and mature technologies and is able to keep pace with the latest technical developments.
A special merit of the Delegated Act is the blend of visionary spirit and pragmatism reflected in its clever approach to the issue of communication standards.
It leaves room for realizing the vision of an integrated use of ITS-G5 according to IEEE-Standard 802.11p and radio-based Vehicle2x communication (C-V2x).
ITS-G5 is a mature technology for Car2x applications in the 5.9 GHz band: It serves as the basis for safety-relevant short range communication, prepares optimally for the system redundancy required for the higher stages of autonomous driving, and is already implemented in most of the ongoing projects in the EU.
5G can improve the communication link to the traffic control center and the automobile cloud solutions, but only if new base stations are built. ITS-G5 (802.11p) would also require a new infrastructure, which could however be implemented on the basis of existing structures.
From Siemens’ perspective, the Act comes at just the right time: The digitalization of our roads and streets is already in full swing.
In the future, connected cars will warn each other of potential hazards such as accidents or black ice.
They will know about the location of roadworks and the switching phases of traffic lights and be able to react accordingly.
The drivers will benefit from safer, more convenient and faster travel with lower emissions.
For this, situation relevant information about coordinated green phases, congestion, roadworks, wrong-way drivers etc. must be made available directly inside the car, in urban traffic as well as on the motorway.
More information means less congestion and fewer injured.
Experts from the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) are convinced that connected driving will reduce congestion in Germany by 20 percent, and that 5 percent of road casualties could be prevented by the “weather hazard alert” function alone, which warns road users of dangerous conditions such as torrential rain, black ice and crosswinds.
With C-ITS applications, the connecting link for communication between vehicle and infra- structure is the Road Side Unit (RSU).
For this purpose, Siemens’ Sitraffic ESCoS system uses WLAN-based radio modules, which can be installed on sign gantries, roadworks trailers, light masts and even on roads not yet covered by traffic control systems.
Every RSU serves as both transmitter and receiver: It provides passing vehicles with relevant real-time information, e.g. speed limits or black-ice and congestion warnings, and receives traffic-related information on congestion, speed limits or diversion routes from traffic controllers and control centers.
It also collects data on local conditions (e.g. temperature, humidity, ambient light) from environmental detectors. In parallel it registers vehicle data, for example speed and type, and autonomously counts the number of vehicles per hour, functioning as a full-fledged traffic detector an ideal multipurpose solution.
Actually, C-ITS applications are no longer visionary scenarios, but have been implemented in various commercial and pilot projects in Europe.
The best known pilot project is doubtlessly the C-ITS corridor Rotterdam-Frankfurt-Vienna, delivering improved safety and more precise traffic data across national borders.
The Netherlands, Germany and Austria are working on a “Cooperative Corridor” between Rotterdam and Vienna.
Step by step, all motorway sections along this corridor are being equipped with a cooperative infrastructure based on RSUs and Central Management Systems (CMS).
The aim: providing motorists with early warnings regarding roadworks, and transmitting situational data recorded by the vehicles to the RSUs and then to the traffic control centers.
On the motorway sections, which are among the busiest in Europe, backlogs are frequent, leading to substantially higher fuel consumption and pollutant emissions.
This means that every backlog prevented will have a correspondingly high positive impact.
The eSafety Forum initiated by the European Commission expects a reduction potential of up to 15 percent and an energy efficiency increase of 20 percent.
Projects of this kind are in progress not only on highways, but also in urban areas such as the German city of Wolfsburg, where VW and Siemens have recently started a project aimed at making intersections safer.
The test section is implemented on an arterial road in Wolfsburg and comprises ten traffic signal system test section.
It uses the V2x technology ITS-G5 (IEEE 802.11p) for the local exchange of information between vehicles and infra- structure, in this case to broadcast the traffic light phases across the surrounding street network.
But this is by no way the endpoint of the development, which is bound to progress from technology-supported driving (driver- assistance systems) to networked driving (Vehicle2x) and autonomous driving (self- driving cars) right up to piloted driving.
And ultimately to the data-based integration of all transport systems: Airplanes, trains, trams, buses, ships, parking lots all will generate data for use in a wide range of applications that will help make mobility safer, easier and less stressful for everybody.