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by Varun Krishna Murthy, Senior Research Analyst, Mobility – Chassis, Driver Assistance and Autonomous Driving

The Decade of Action for Road Safety (2011-2020) in Europe has been marked by progressive legislation aimed at enhancing vehicle safety and reducing the number of road fatalities. In line with this, the recent revision by the European Union to the General Safety Regulation (GSR) mandates as many as 11 vehicle safety features, including SAE Level 2 Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), for all new vehicles starting in 2022.

Some of these ADAS—Driver Drowsiness and Distraction, Blind Spot Detection, Reversing Camera or Detection, and Vulnerable Road Users’ Detection, among them—assist drivers by warning them of hazards around the vehicle. Simultaneously, systems such as Advanced Emergency Braking, Intelligent Speed Assistance, and Lane Keeping Assist intervene to take control of hazardous situations and act as collision avoidance systems. With its ADAS mandate, the EU is spearheading the acceptance and adoption of future connected and autonomous vehicles by the general public, while demonstrating its commitment to enhancing the safety of vulnerable road users within cities. The aim ultimately is to achieve “Vision Zero” where advanced vehicle safety technologies along with connected systems help realize a scenario of zero road fatalities by 2050.

Strengthening Synergies between Smart Cities and Autonomous and Connected Vehicle Technologies

Many vehicle manufacturers are voluntarily offering connectivity and non-mandated driver assist features in their vehicles to attract customers. This is providing customers with an extra layer of convenience, information, safety, and data-based value-added services, thereby increasing the value proposition of the vehicles. The penetration of driver assist features and connectivity from premium, luxury, and expensive vehicles into the economical, entry level segment is expected to occur at a swift pace.

As SAE Level 3 and SAE Level 4 vehicles penetrate the market, they will require compatible physical and digital connected infrastructure offered by smart cities to enable them operate at their full potential. Connected traffic data gleaned from transport and road infrastructure, in conjunction with live maps available on the vehicle, will support intelligent and informed decision making. It will help drivers determine the least congested route, find the closest vacant parking slot or even locate an electric charging station, thereby achieving improved efficiencies.

Smart Cities to Achieve Transport Safety and Efficiency by Mandating Key Vehicle Technologies

Efficient and safe mobility is at the heart of any smart city. Several vehicle safety technologies such as Predictive Traffic Time, Automated Parking, Vehicle-to-Pedestrian Communication, Connected Traffic Light Information, and Virtual Cockpit have the potential to help smart cities and their inhabitants achieve safe, effective and affordable transport solutions.

Vehicle systems, such as Predictive Traffic Time and Connected Traffic Light Information, will support information exchange between vehicles and local traffic management systems, thereby reducing the traffic density on particular routes and ensuring faster vehicle movement. Automated Parking systems will optimise parking facilities, thereby reducing congestion near core shopping zones, high streets and business areas. Vehicle- to-Pedestrian Communication systems will prioritise and promote the safe movement of vulnerable road users within cities, while Virtual Cockpit systems will provide drivers with navigation and traffic information overlaid on their windshield/information display systems, thereby reducing driver distractions.

Smart city authorities should consider mandating these key technologies in order to leverage their multiple benefits in terms of enhanced transport safety and efficiency. Equally, they should work in tandem with vehicle manufacturers, technology companies, and data aggregators, encouraging them to provide these technologies at an affordable price.

Collaborative Efforts Will Be Critical to Standardising Regulations, Deriving Full Benefits from Advanced Vehicle Safety Technologies

Although Frost & Sullivan expects all SAE Level 3 and above vehicles to be physically tested and type approved for safe operations by federal agencies before permitting them to ply on public roads, it is important to note that the physical and digital infrastructure framework within which they operate will vary across cities. Discrepancies in regional traffic signs, traffic management data, road usage patterns and local data exchange platforms will influence the safe operation of these vehicles. This will pose a huge challenge to vehicle manufacturers in terms of developing region/city specific compatible software and connectivity platforms for their vehicles.

Furthermore, the disruption caused by vehicles operating at various levels of autonomy, in conjunction with local transport systems, will create a colossal challenge for smart city authorities. This will be underlined by the interdependencies that will emerge as a result of the data exchanges between autonomous vehicles and local traffic management systems.

Among the primary goals of any smart city is enhanced safety, reduced congestion, and improved transport efficiency. Frost and Sullivan believes that if smart cities are to realise these objectives, they should consider regulating key vehicle technologies on all SAE Level 1 to Level 3 vehicles and regulate all SAE Level 4 vehicles, and ensure that they are compatible with local connected platforms before permitting them to operate on city roads.

Frost & Sullivan anticipates that this will impel vehicle manufacturers, mobility and technology companies to influence federal policy makers to standardise regulations across smart cities which, in turn, will help fast track the development of vehicles compliant with regional level regulations.

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