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by Jaroslav Machan and Christian Laugier

Socio-economic context
The recent global economic growth and the related overall increase in volumes of transportation, along with stronger public demand for mobility, are leading causes of road infrastructure congestion and of a large number of accidents and deaths (about one fatality per every 100 million km of driving and a social cost in France of 23 billion Euros in 2011). These factors have lead to a heavy rise in both energy consumption and also environmental and social problems.

Reaction to this situation cannot be limited to the classic countermeasures, which typically consist in a push to expand road transport infrastructure, but must be based on a search for suitable solutions with an ever stronger emphasis on innovation. Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) is a research field that aims at integrating all types of transportation and tries to optimise energy efficiency.

An integral part of Intelligent Transport Systems are Intelligent Vehicles, such as the “intelligent car” which constitutes the main subject of this special issue.

Intelligent Transport Systems are advanced applications which, while not intelligent in their own right, have been created with the objective of providing intelligent services to various types of transportation and traffic control [1]. The aim is to increase the amount of information available to users in order to ensure a safer, better coordinated and more efficient - thus “intelligent” - utilisation of transportation networks and vehicles.

ITS strategies have an impact on how communication and information technologies are used for strengthening or optimising the performance, efficiency, safety, economy, environmental impact and comfort of transportation. All of these parameters are based on how individual systems communicate with each other, and on faster and more precise methods of relaying information.

Intelligent Transport Systems bring together telecommunications, electronics and information technologies with transport engineering in an effort to plan, design, operate, maintain and control transport systems. Using information and communication technologies in the field of road transport and interfacing them with other types of transportation will significantly contribute to decreasing the impact of road transport on the environment while improving its efficiency and, in particular, its energy consumption. It will also contribute to increasing road safety by considering outside threats, such as the transportation of dangerous goods. It will lead to improvements in the mobility of both goods and people, and will foster a healthy internal market, increased competitiveness and a higher rate of employment.

The current progress made possible by applying information and communication technologies to other areas of transport should also influence the development of road transport, with the primary objective of achieving a higher degree of integration between the road and other modalities of transportation.
Figure 1 shows how various elements in transport are connected together in an Intelligent Transport System.

Figure 1: All newly developed vehicles should be compatible with ITS guidelines and standards. Source: ETSI.

All newly developed vehicles should be compatible with ITS guidelines and standards. Two existing technical committees, the European CEN TC278 Road Transport and Traffic Telematics committee and the global ISO TC204 Intelligent Transport Systems committee, generate dozens of standards which have a deep multinational impact on the whole field of transport telematics due to their integration at a European and a global level. It is essential that all countries have thorough knowledge of these standards and capability to apply them. Unfortunately, the number of standards is very high, with, in 2010, approximately 300 standards in place at a varying state of completion. These standards are usually highly complex, their structure is based on IT standards, such as UML, and they often run up to hundreds of pages in length. The only viable solution is to develop correct methods to apply them in practice.

Safety issues
Ensuring a maximum level of safety in the field of road transport is a top priority. ITS has been investigating for many years the feasibility of implementing eCall automatic emergency call systems, to monitor shipments of dangerous goods, to weigh transport vehicles while underway, and to monitor the conditions of live animals under transit. The biggest obstacle for the future development of ITS lies in the non-existence of regulatory measures ratified at a European-wide level.

Figure 2: Integrated vehicle safety intelligent system (integration of intelligent vehicles into ITS) [3]. Source: EUCAR.

In combination with the intelligent car, ITS are addressing and reducing risks in many of the major phases surrounding a vehicle collision. Figure 2 shows a timeline of individual collision phases consisting of:
• The information exchange phase. In this phase, it is possible to warn the vehicle of a potentially dangerous situation.
• The safety systems function phase. In this phase, it is possible to adjust the parameters of anti-collision systems according to information from ITS.
• The passive protection function phase. ITS is practically not utilised in this phase.
• The post-collision phase. In this phase, emergency units are notified with the help of ITS and eCall, and vehicles in the surrounding area are warned of potential danger.

The development and implementation of strong and reliable ITS is essential in order to increase traffic safety.

Current and Future Developments
Further ITS development will also entail a change in approaches to the design of motor vehicles, which will need to acquire a capability of dual-way communication. Vehicles will have to be equipped with the necessary sensors to be able to relay information not only about themselves, but also about their surroundings. Figure 3 defines the proportion of the integration of individual ITS elements into vehicles and infrastructure.

Figure 3: Integration of individual ITS elements into vehicles and infrastructure [3].

Authorities in individual countries are also aware of the need to introduce globally compatible ITS networks. A strong emphasis is being placed on the so-called ‘global’, but currently tripartite (EU-US-Japan), concept of communication network architecture [2]. Attention is focused not only on standardising ITS, but also on E-Mobility, where it is expected that a high level of interconnection will be achieved.

The following areas have been given top priority from the technical perspective: Driver Distraction; cooperative systems (Vehicle-to-Vehicle, Vehicle-to-Infrastructure); safety improving systems such as Collision Warning and Intersection Warning; and more generally ADAS (Advanced Driving Assistance Systems) technologies and recent promising technologies for Fully Autonomous Driving (see for instance the Google Car project). A description of the state-of-the-art of these technologies is presented in [5], and some emerging approaches for Risk Assessment and Collision Warning are presented in [6] . Efforts are being made to find solutions in hardware (HW) and software (SW) compatibility (support for joint HW and SW platforms), that will improve robustness and safety of the system as a whole.

From the perspective of satellite navigation systems, emphasis is being placed on the capability of system interoperability, namely between the Galileo, GPS and GLONASS systems developed by the EU, U.S. and Russia, respectively.

From this discussion it is clear that the issue of intelligent vehicles and their integration into Intelligent Transport Systems is crucial for the development of future transportation, which is why this special edition of our magazine is dedicated to this topic. The articles in these special theme sections provide a panorama of European research in the field. They address several relevant and active subtopics: advanced driving assistance systems and autonomous driving, software engineering methodologies and best practices, vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications, data management and privacy, traffic monitoring and control systems and human-machine interaction. This diversity of topics and challenges does not only illustrate the great complexity of the task, but also the progress we are making towards providing viable solutions for it.

Acknowledgement: We would like to thank Dr. Dizan Vasquez for his support during the review process and the finalization of this special theme.

[1] European Parliament and Council Directive 2010/40/EU of 7 July 2010 on ITS in the field of road transport
[2] EUCAR: Sustainability of Road Transportation Research Priorities & Research Targets by 2013, contribution to FP7 Specific and Work Programs
[3] Přibyl et al.: “Transport Terminology Dictionary (Slovník dopravní terminologie)”, ČVUT Publishing, 2010, ISBN 978-80-01-04654-8
[4] Strategic Research Agenda “Vehicles for Sustainable Mobility”, 2/2013, ISBN 978-80-260-3952-5.
[5] A. Eskandarian (ed.): “Handbook of Intelligent Vehicles, section 10 “Fully Autonomous Driving”, edited by C. Laugier, Springer, New York, March 2011, ISBN: 978-0-85729-084-7 (Print) 978-0-85729-085-4 (Online).
[6] C. Laugier et al: “Probabilistic Analysis of Dynamic Scenes and Collision Risk Assessment to improve Driving Safety”, in Intelligent Transportation Systems Journal 3.4, Nov. 2011.

Please contact:
Jaroslav Machan, ŠKODA AUTO a.s., Czech Republic
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Christian Laugier, Inria, France
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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