Virtual Conference on autonomous vehicles - Full speed ahead towards sustainable and digital mobility?

By Sofia Pechin / Updated: 11 Apr 2022

The European Commission’s strategy on Connected and Automated Mobility aims to make Europe a world leader in the development and deployment of connected and automated vehicles. Under the Horizon Europe programme, research and innovation on Cooperative, Connected and Automated Mobility is a key priority.

In this contest, EURACTIV organised a Virtual Conference to find out how long it will take until autonomous vehicles become the norm, and what is delaying progress.

During the event, Mark Boris Andrijanic, Slovenia’s Minister for digital transformation and a former policy advisor for the American car-hailing company Uber, stated that Autonomous vehicles have the potential to reduce traffic by 90% and bring road deaths to zero. However, he also recognised that serious technological hurdles remain.

Andrijanic documented a slow pace of technological development in Europe in comparison with that of the United States, stating: “If you look at the top 10 companies when it comes to autonomous mobility, you can only find one European company – that’s unacceptable.” 

Despite progress in achieving automation, safety issues remain a problem. These include cars interacting in complex traffic situations and reacting appropriately to random events. Regarding these issues, Dr Maciej Wielgosz, a researcher with the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, stated autonomous vehicles require more diverse simulation and training environments to address the unpredictability of human behaviour. He explained: “We all were kids, so we know how kids behave. So, once we drive, we create a model of children’s behaviour… But vehicles are deprived of such multi-domain information.

Geert van der Linden, an expert on intelligent transport with the European Commission, also quoted the need for more varied data: “For automated vehicles, they may have a lot more eyes, cameras, lidars than we do, and they may have better vision, but they’re not as good at understanding what they’re looking at. One of the most important mindset changes is to stop thinking of cars individually but rather to think of them as part of a system. This means that the cars must be able to absorb information from their surroundings, but also to communicate with other vehicles they encounter."

Johannes Springer, the director-general of the 5G Automotive Association, stated that automation will be a gradual process likely to be limited in the short term but will expand overtime. He said: “The fully autonomous vehicle which drives us everywhere, to any place we want to go, this is really something that would be very ambitious. But to have automated driving in limited areas, for instance for parking at the airport, or for public transport to take the bus driver out of the cost equation of the public transport organisation, that is something that I truly believe will happen in a foreseeable timeframe.” According to Springer, this kind of automation could be available within two to five years.

Click here to watch the full event.


Original article published by Euractiv on 28 March 2022.

Photo Credit: © Scharfsinn - no permission to re-use image(s) without separate licence from Shutterstock.

Autonomous and connected vehicles