C-Roads Italy, A22 connected driving laboratory

This morning the Italian stage in the European Smart Road project was held in Trento
Pat Cox: “Excellent progress. C-ITS, providing help for the Brenner Motorway traffic”

motorway that communicates with vehicles, which in turn are interconnected with each other, making travel ever safer, faster, and greener: this was the big success achieved by the Autostrada del Brennero company (AutoBrennero) together with the bodies that have developed various projects along the A22 motorway over the last four years within the C-Roads Italy initiative. This is a component of the European program that aims to develop uniform Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (C-ITS) right across the European Union. The results of this important work were presented this morning at the Interbrennero Congress Centre in Trento, at the C-ITS Roadshow.

The most important achievement was the definition of a transmission protocol for the messages that reach vehicles through a C-ITS server, 63 Road Side Units (RSU) installed for short range communication, and a virtual RSU for long range exchanges implemented in collaboration with the telecommunications provider, TIM. The system developed by AutoBrennero has become the Italian standard for hybrid communications and already today it can communicate the presence of roadworks, accidents, adverse weather conditions, and other problems to on-board computers. Soon this will become the instrument for managing each individual vehicle like the carriages of a train, ensuring high speed travel in complete safety while also protecting the environment. This objective is anything but science fiction, considering that Iveco have already successfully tested Truck Platooning on the A22. This involves driving a whole convoy of trucks with just the first vehicle, while safely interacting with other motorway traffic. At the same time the CRF (Fiat Research Centre) have been testing their Highway Chauffeur, which implements vehicle automation functions that enable automatic speed regulation, steering, and lane changing.

The company President, Hartmann Reichhalter, started with the observation that, “In addition to being proud that the Brenner Motorway has been a laboratory for the development of a component in an important technology destined to become the shared heritage of the European Union, there is also the satisfaction of an evolution in road transport that, combined with high speed rail travel and the spread of electric vehicles, will enable us to travel along the Brenner transport corridor without negative impact on the environment and the people who live there. AutoBrennero are constantly committed not only to the quality of service they offer travellers, but also the quality of life of those living close to the motorway”.

The Managing Director, Diego Cattoni, recently elected President of Aiscat, outlined the importance of transport digitalization for the entire motorway sector: “Over the last few decades,” he noted, “very few new motorways have been constructed in Italy. Building new ones should not be a taboo where they are necessary, but the C-ITS technology that we are developing will allow us to multiply the capacity of the existing infrastructures and zero the accident rate without consuming more land. Along with the spread of electrical vehicles, hydrogen and battery power systems, this is a field for decisive action that will revolutionize the motorway sector over coming years. It should be combined,” added Cattoni, “with positive integration into the railway network”.

The latter concept was also underlined in the intervention of the Coordinator for the Scandinavian-Mediterranean Corridor, the Irishman Pat Cox: “Even though today the discussion is focused on the role of C-ITS on roads, as coordinator of TEN-T I think it is important to develop much more extensive data flows not only on our roads, but also in other modes of transport, to better integrate our mobility in this age of enhanced connectivity and deeper environmental understanding”. He went on to praise the results achieved by C-Roads Italy: “I would like to acknowledge the excellent progress that has been made over the last four years. Transport is on the threshold of its most profound transformation since horses and carts were replaced with internal combustion engines. The modernization and transformation of our road infrastructure is a vital contributing component in this process”.

The General Technical Director of AutoBrennero, Carlo Costa, recounted each stage in the C-Roads Italy project, which he was involved in right from its conception: “Over these years we had to translate the internal motorway operator communication protocols into a basic protocol for transmitting C-ITS messages. We created C-ITS servers, developed the Pyc-Roads software that converts messages into binary format according to ETSI specifications, installed 63 Road Side Units, and developed the virtual Road Side Unit that enables integration of short range with long range signals, thereby establishing the Italian standard for hybrid communication. We ensured the safety of the data against possible attacks and protected the privacy of users.” Costa added that, “Thanks to partners like CRF, Iveco, TIM, and Asfinag, we were able to verify the system and test projects like Truck Platooning, Highway Chauffeur, and the interoperability of our system across the Brenner Pass border. We have estimated around 10,200 hours of work, conducted 90% by internal staff. We are really very satisfied, this is just the start, but we already have one foot firmly planted in the future”.

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