What do policy makers want to know about the impact of connected automated vehicles?

On 28 May, Gothenburg hosted 45 experts from Europe and Australia to discuss which societal impacts connected and automated vehicles will have. The workshop (PDF) marked the first meeting of the LEVITATE Stakeholder Group, which meets several times until the completion of the project in 2021.

The stakeholder group facilitates a continuous dialogue with experts, users and the consortium about the impacts of connected and automated transport (CAT). Through the stakeholder group, LEVITATE provides a European platform for knowledge sharing and discussion about automation in transport.

Workshop participants included local, regional and national authorities, agencies, services providers, OEMs, researchers and networks representing user groups such as cities, pedestrians, automotive or road research. The experts shared their thoughts about the contributions of CAT to the future of passenger cars, urban transport, and freight transport. They also stated their perspective of long-term goals with respect to safety, society, economy and environment, along with relevant indicators and conflict potentials between these goal dimensions.

Listen to what participants had to say about connected and automated transport:

Digitalisation and Road Safety Research Workshop in Athens

The LEVITATE project was presented at the scientific workshop organized by the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) on ‘Digitalisation and Road Safety Research’, which took place with great success on 17 May 2019 in Athens, within the framework of the Fifth UN Global Road Safety Week.

Special focus was put on future impact of automation on safety with LEVITATE project findings in key presentation, followed by a vivid Expert Panel discussion regarding new perspectives and horizons of road safety in the digital and automated era in Europe and worldwide with focus on the future of automation related safety policy interventions.

Download the LEVITATE project presentation (PDF).

LEVITATE partner in the spotlight: interview with Rune Elvik, TØI

The Institute of Transport Economics (TØI) is a national institution for transport research and development. It was set up in 1958, and in 1986 the TOI became a private, independent research foundation. Rune Elvik is senior research officer at TØI. He has obtained four doctoral degrees in the fields of political science, philosophy and road safety. Rune Elvik is known for his work on TØI’s Traffic Safety Handbook that has been published in five languages and is a benchmark on current knowledge about the effect of road safety measures. 

What is your key question on the impact connected and automated transport systems will have?
Rune Elvik: Based on my background, I feel best qualified to deal with road safety impacts, but in Levitate we aim to cover all societal impacts of CATs.

How do you contribute to LEVITATE?
Rune Elvik: Our job in LEVITATE is to develop methods for forecasting impacts of connected and automated vehicles. We need the contributions of all partners to be able to do so. At a later stage, we will deal with cost-benefit analyses, which our institute has a long experience in doing.

Human error is made responsible for the vast majority of road crashes. Will full automation of vehicles make road traffic safer than ever by eliminating the human factor?
Rune Elvik: Ah, well, you will not eliminate the human factor. You will simply transfer it to a different arena. The future errors will be software and hardware errors in the computers running the vehicles. But yes. These errors are likely to be few and yes, I do think road safety will be improved.

Do you expect to witness a highly automated road transport system in your lifetime, and how should that look like?
Rune Elvik: I don’t know. We already see small automated buses. There is one running in the city of Oslo. I probably ought to take a trip with it soon. But I think there is a long way to go before fully automated passenger cars can be used everywhere. Prototypes, on the other hand, will emerge very quickly, I think.

How I wish it will be? Well, obviously, free of accidents and free of pollution. Get rid of all the bad things associated with traffic.

Stakeholder Reference Group workshop in Gothenburg

Gothenburg is hosting experts from Europe and beyond today to discuss which societal impacts connected and automated vehicles will have. The workshop is organised within the Horizon 2020 funded research project LEVITATE.

The LEVITATE project develops methods to forecast societal level impacts of connected and automated transport (CATs). This includes the impact of CATs on safety, the environment, the economy and society.

To develop tools that meet the needs of future users, 45 experts from Europe and Australia have come to Gothenburg to discuss their visions, expectations, use cases and conflicts for a future with connected automated vehicles.

“Vehicle automation and connected mobility services will have a major impact on transport safety, the environment and prosperity. We have to find the best approaches to ensure future technologies will be beneficial to individuals, society and industry stakeholders”, says Prof. Pete Thomas of Loughborough University and the coordinator of the LEVITATE project.

What regulation will deploy benefits and mitigate the risks?
The impacts of connected and automated transport systems are expected to be disruptional and transformative so conventional approaches to forecast impacts, based on a continuation of existing trends, may not be effective. Authorities in particular face two main challenges: How should they respond to the deployment of connected and automated transport systems (CATS)? And how can they take advantage of these systems to achieve broader policy objectives?

“While automated vehicles may bring some benefits, there is also the possibility that their widespread introduction in urban areas could lead to increased congestion, negative environmental impacts and negative health impacts, if walking and cycling are discouraged”, says Suzanne Hoadley of the European city network Polis.“Therefore, it is of utmost urgency to bring professionals together beyond their own sectors and exchange about use cases and risks of CATs. Today’s workshop in Gothenburg takes an important step on that matter.”

Workshop participants include local, regional and national authorities, agencies, services providers, OEMs, researchers and networks representing user groups such as cities, pedestrians, automotive or road research.

A self-driving minibus with space for 11 passengers is currently being tested in Gothenburg that connects the parking facilities Polstjärnegatan and the workshop venue in Lindholmen Science Park. Participants have the possibility to test the shuttle and take the eight minutes trip.

The LEVITATE Stakeholder group facilitates a continuous and purposeful dialogue with experts, users and the consortium about the impacts of connected and automated transport (CAT). Through the SRG, LEVITATE provides a European platform for knowledge sharing and discussion about automation in transport. The group meets several times until the completion of the project in 2021.

About LEVITATE
Launched in December 2018, LEVITATE is a 3-year project led by Loughborough University whose main output will be a policy support tool (PST) to help local authorities forecast the impacts of automated vehicles over the short, medium and long-term. The PST will also contain a back-casting tool providing guidance to local authorities on the measures to implement to achieve desired outcomes against a backdrop of increasing vehicle automation.

Project leaflet

One of the first deliverables in this project was the project leaflet, introducing the scope, activities  and contact details of the project.

This leaflet has been produced and the digital version is available under downloads.