Antwerp highways part of European self-driving experiment
Antwerp has been selected as one of five European proving grounds for autonomous driving, along with Lyon, Vigo, Munich and Rotterdam. Selected parts of the motorways surrounding the city will be equipped with sensors aiding the autonomous driving technology.
Part of the Antwerp ring road between Borgerhout and Deurne and part of the E313 motorway in Ranst will be equipped in the coming months with sensors helping self-driving test vehicles along in 2019.
Antwerp is one of five cities, selected for a European project testing autonomous-driving technology in 2019 and 2020. The French city of Lyon has been selected as well, next to the motorway connecting Nuremberg with Munich, Vigo in Spain and the broader region between Rotterdam and The Hague in the Netherlands.
“Antwerp is a logistical hub, but the region is suffering from traffic congestion”, says Flemish Innovation minister Philippe Muyters (N-VA). The autonomous driving project should help smoothing the traffic flow.
“In busy traffic, human drivers have a tendency to brake too much, creating a chain effect behind and thus creating unnecessary traffic jams. Autonomous driving vehicles can prevent these situations”, says Muyters.
Driver on board
The sensors on the road send information regarding traffic to the vehicles, which can automatically adapt, thus no longer braking when it is not required. The autonomous cars will be clearly identifiable, according to Muyters, and always have a driver on board.
The autonomous cars will operate alongside normal traffic. One of the benefits the experiment is hoping to show, is a reduction of traffic jams because normally driven cars follow the example as shown by the autonomous vehicles thus helping to get a more free-flowing traffic.
20 million euro
The project has a 20 million euro budget, 3.4 million euro are allocated to the Antwerp-test project. “Part of this is paid by government, and part of it comes from private funding”, says Muyters.
“The Flemish nano-electronic research centre IMEC also takes part in the experiment. IMEC conceived a chip with deep-learning capabilities. It can react on unexpected situations, such as a child suddenly crossing the road. Ford and Toyota also participate in this project.”
It is expected that in 20 years time a big part of the European vehicle fleet will be autonomously operated. Currently, one of the challenges is making all the software for this technology compatible on an international scale.