Centro Ricerche Fiat, FCA’s research and development arm, has joined a broad based European research consortium that’s going to analyse opportunities for using technologies to facilitate mobility in the future with the ambitious aim of achieving a breakthrough in the area of automated driving.
The project, dubbed, L3Pilot, will have a four-year development programme and the focus of research is automated driving on roads in Europe.
Under the leadership of the Volkswagen Group, thirteen European automobile manufacturers, suppliers, research institutes and universities, and small and mid-sized companies will operate 100 vehicles with 1000 drivers in the public transport system in order to test automated drive systems in conformity with Level 3 and Level 4 under real conditions and in a wide range of applications. The technologies being tested include a broad spectrum – from parking and overtaking to driving in complex city traffic.
The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) defines ‘Level 3’ as being ‘eyes off’ and expands that as follows: “The driver can safely turn their attention away from the driving tasks, e.g. the driver can text or watch a movie. The vehicle will handle situations that call for an immediate response, like emergency braking. The driver must still be prepared to intervene within some limited time, specified by the manufacturer, when called upon by the vehicle to do so.”
Meanwhile SAE dubs ‘Level 4’ as being ‘mind off’ and details this: “As level 3, but no driver attention is ever required for safety, i.e. the driver may safely go to sleep or leave the driver’s seat. Self-driving is supported only in limited areas (geofenced) or under special circumstances, like traffic jams. Outside of these areas or circumstances, the vehicle must be able to safely abort the trip, i.e. park the car, if the driver does not retake control.”
Overall, the L3Pilot project will collect data in eleven European countries for assessing technical aspects, user acceptance, driving and travel behaviour, and the impact of these systems on traffic and society. The broad spectrum of driving situations means that L3Pilot is the first project worldwide to implement and test such comprehensive functions of automated driving in practice.
“We are confident that the research initiative L3Pilot will create a broadly based and comprehensive platform for realisation of mobility in the future,” said Aria Etemad from Volkswagen Group Research in his function as project coordinator of the EU research project L3Pilot. “The strong integration of the entire European automobile industry and the scientific support by experts in the areas of mobility and automated vehicles will drive this initiative forward and make it successful.”
Alongside technical development, statutory framework conditions for vehicle manufacturers and drivers are being analysed. The focus is on product liability and road traffic regulations. This pioneering project has been planned for four years and is the biggest EU-sponsored project of its kind. The project budget has been set at 68 million euros and is being supported by the European Commission with 36 million euros.
As well as Centro Ricerche Fiat, the L3Pilot project includes a broad swathe of other manufacturers in Europe: Volkswagen (coordinator), Audi, BMW, Daimler, Ford, Honda, Jaguar Land Rover, Opel, Peugeot-Citroën, Renault, Toyota and Volvo while suppliers comprise of Autoliv, Delphi and FEV. Research institutes and universities are also involved, namely German Aerospace Center, ika RWTH Aachen University, Institute of Communication and Computer Systems ICCS, SAFER, SNF - Centre for Applied Research at NHH, University of Leeds, University of Warwick, Federal Highway Research Institute (BASt), University of Genoa, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and Würzburger Institut für Verkehrswissenschaften (WIVW Center for Traffic Sciences). Other groups taking part are The Netherlands Vehicle Authority RDW and Federation Internationale de l’Automobile FIA, AZT Automotive, Swiss Reinsurance Company, ADAS Management Consulting and the European Center for Information and Communication Technologies EICT.