VIDEO: LEVITATE project introduction

Pete Thomas, Project Coordinator, and project partners from the National Technical University of Athens and the University of Michigan express their views on the LEVITATE project during the second Consortium meeting in The Hague.

Have a look at the video:

2nd Stakeholder Reference Group workshop takes place in Brussels

The LEVITATE Stakeholder Reference Group met for the second time in the project’s lifetime for a workshop held on 26 November in Brussels. 37 people from across Europe, including many representatives of local and regional government, took part. The workshop provided an overview of the mechanics of the launch of the developing Policy Support Tool, which will be one of the main outputs of the project and is being  established to enable policy makers and planners to run their own assessment of the potential impact of connected and automated transport systems in their city or region and across several transport policy domains.. Valuable insights were collected on how to further develop this tool.

The aim of LEVITATE’s Policy Support Tool (PST) is to help public authorities predict the impact of connected and automated transport systems (CATS) and identify policy interventions to help achieve certain long-term mobility goals and/or to mitigate the potential negative effects of vehicle automation. A variety of stakeholders attended the meeting: local and regional authorities, national authorities, national road operators and researchers.

The workshop opened with an introduction by Suzanne Hoadley (Polis) on the vision of Polis on automation and other European projects related to automation, followed by Pete Thomas (Loughborough University), who introduced the LEVITATE project, its objectives and the aim of the workshop.

The first session focused on giving an overview of  the Policy Support Tool (PST): its components, what it can and cannot do, what input will be required and what the output might look like. George Yannis (National Technical University of Athens) demonstrated how the tool could work in the future, based on different assessment methods. He also presented one practical case to illustrate the tool’s expected functioning, doing so in a step by step process.

The different CATS impact areas were presented by Rune Elvik (Institute of Transport Economics), followed by an explanation of why they were selected (for more information on the impacts of CATS you can consult this report). Wolfgang Ponweiser (Austrian Institute of Technology) gave an overview of the CATS policy interventions (related to urban transport, economic incentives, access and space allocation). He introduced the backcasting method as a tool to predict the impacts of CATS, highlighting that backcasting starts with the city’s vision – the targets cities want to achieve.

After these presentations, the participants broke up into four smaller groups to discuss the PST and the backcasting methodology. Participants gave their views on the PST structure that had been presented, its usability and the functionalities it should have, and reflected on the reasons why they would use it. The challenges that could be faced during the development of the PST were also discussed, and some ideas on how it could be improved arose. During the discussion, participants also provided insights about the policy interventions they considered to be the most relevant.

Their feedback was collected by the project partners, who closed the session by reflecting on the main conclusions of the workshop and laying out the next steps for the LEVITATE project.

LEVITATE partner in the spotlight

Questions to Anna Craciun, Transport for Greater Manchester

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) is the local government body responsible for delivering Greater Manchester’s transport strategy and commitments. TfGM is committed to leading change and supporting the 10 Local Authorities within Greater Manchester with the implementation of new technology and mobility solutions underpinned by our 2040 Transport Vision and Innovation Strategies. Anna Craciun is TfGM’s lead on  project Synergy and project LEVITATE which have become the foundation for TfGM’s developing Policy and Deployment Strategy for autonomous vehicles.

Q: As a city partner, how do you contribute to project LEVITATE and why did you join the project?

A: Innovation is imperative for the transport sector and TfGM have built a long term portfolio of forward-thinking pilots and projects, including LEVITATE, which are aligned with our 2040 Transport Vision. Project LEVITATE enables TfGM to respond to the fast-paced autonomous mobility sector with robust resources like the Policy Support Tool being developed by the LEVITATE consortium.

Q: What are TfGM’s views on and vision for connected and automated transport systems?

A: The future of commercial automated transport services and their operation in complex urban environments is still uncertain and TfGM, like others, is not in a position to predict this. Instead we can create robust strategies to ensure Greater Manchester becomes a hub for innovation. Extensive collaboration with a myriad of UK and international partners such as the Depart for Transport, the Law Commission, UITP and POLIS has allowed us to develop a set of “guiding principles for automated transport” that will ensure autonomous vehicles emerge in line with our wider vision for Greater Manchester.

TfGM are also supporting the work University of Salford are carrying out as part of their Automotive and Autonomous Vehicle Technology Course that launched in September 2018. This is a great step towards strengthening the labour market in Manchester and strengthens the links with our academic partner in finding new solutions for cyber security and traffic control through live testing and behavioural analysis.

Q: How and in which context are you planning to use the Policy Support Tool? In which way will it be useful for a city in general?

A: Being part of the LEVITATE project has enabled TfGM to input into the development of the PST. This will ultimately allow us to validate the tool and align its outcomes to our 2040 Transport Strategy and our emerging Greater Manchester Policy and Deployment Strategy for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles.

The PST will be a fantastic way for local authorities to consider how they can futureproof their infrastructure, data governance and local policies so that CAV services will be able to operate on their roads and seamlessly travel across district, and even regional boundaries. The tool could also provide a pathway to implementation of the Regional Strategic Principles as it would highlight any shortfalls that different authorities will need to overcome to ensure they are CAV-ready.

Q: When do you think automated transport systems are going to be widespread in urban areas? How do you see this evolution in a short, middle and long timeframe?

A: The driving force (excuse the pun) behind the technology is not the same as that behind public regulation, therefore estimating a timeline for market penetration and uptake in usage/ownership could misinform decision makers. Instead, governing bodies should direct their efforts towards upskilling their staff on new legislation such as GDPR and towards considering what this might mean for new modes of mobility.

CAVs are already being tested in managed and mixed-traffic environments as part of trials and are operating in segregated environments such as university campuses, however, to gain a broader vote of confidence, legal and ethical frameworks must be established at the national and sub-national level so that manufacturers and operators have cohesive guidelines to adhere to.

In the short term, I think the focus may be on connected (and not necessarily autonomous) vehicles, harnessing the benefits this can bring in terms of the data they will generate.

Q: In your opinion, what role should a transport authority, like TfGM, play in relation to the development and deployment of CAVs?

A: TfGM, like other transport authorities, is already engaged in a series of activities relating to the testing, development and deployment of CAVs. I think what makes us stand out is that we are developing our strategy alongside project partners, district colleagues, public and private stakeholders and Greater Manchester Residents.

In October we held our first Citizen’s Conversation on Driverless Mobility. This was a full day workshop with almost 100 residents from across Greater Manchester that allowed us to share the work we have completed so far, ask for advice on which use-cases we should focus on and understand the work we still need to undertake.

Our role, as a transport authority, is to continue this sort of work; first identifying what our resident’s priorities and needs are, and then looking to innovations like CAVs to see how they can be deployed in a way that addresses these priorities.

– – –

For more information email to: innovation@tfgm.com or anna.craciun@tfgm.com

Defining the future of urban, passenger car, and freight transport

LEVITATE is currently building tools to help European cities, regions and national governments prepare for a future with increasing levels of automated vehicles in passenger cars, urban transport services and urban logistics. The project is preparing a new impact assessment framework to enable policy makers to maximise the benefits of connected and automated transport systems (CATS) and utilise the technologies to achieve societal objectives.

Defining the future of urban, passenger car, and freight transport

Recently several reports have been published within the LEVITATE project. A set of three deliverables provide the working framework under which each of the project use cases and its impacts, can be defined. Namely, Defining the future of urban transport (D5.1); Defining the future of passenger car transport (D6.1) and Defining the future of freight transport (D7.1).

Findings were obtained in two ways: through literature review, and through a dedicated stakeholder workshop to gather the views from a group of experts (Stakeholder Reference Group or SRG) on the future of CATS and their application. This workshop was held in Gothenburg on 28th of May 2019 and counted with the participation of 40 experts. An informed list of sub-use cases of possible interest from a CATS perspective was developed for use cases of urban transport, passenger cars and freight transport

Overall, according to workshop experts, CATS are mainly expected to supplement public transport functions. The deployment of cooperative, connected and autonomous vehicles may have considerable impacts on urban transport operations, through advanced city shuttles and other micro-transit vehicles. There are many opportunities that would be available through these new technologies and cities would need to prepare to take full advantage of them. The report aims at defining expected penetration rates, influenced by market forces and technology adoption. In general, the reviewed literature suggests the future of CATS to be positive in terms of their impacts on traffic, safety, environment, economy and mobility. However, their uptake is most likely to be influenced by trust and user’s acceptance.

Initial screening of literature on connected and automated passenger cars suggests that they have potential to increase the capacity of lanes and lead to a reduction in congestion and fuel consumption in the short-term. However, they could increase travel demand due to changes in destination choices (for example, longer journeys), changes in transport mode (shift from public transport) and introduction of new users. Various forecasting studies show that the claimed (by CATS industry) benefits of the widespread use of automated passenger cars for personal use, would only be achieved if we move from a privately owned to a shared-ownership model. In addition, the use of automated passenger cars for personal use is more likely to be lower than their use as mobility services due to the prohibitive initial vehicle purchase costs.

Compared to passenger cars, user acceptance of CATS technology in urban freight is less of an issue. The reason is that these vehicles are acquired and used by freight operators. Freight vehicles can be regarded as tools and driving as a job. Therefore, commercialisation of automated freight vehicles has different driving factors to automated passenger cars. Roadmaps of European associations, however, differentiate between urban freight transport and long-distance freight transport, with CATS having a major role in the latter. A literature search on Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (automation level 1 and 2) show their impacts on traffic, safety, environment, mobility and society. The systems are similar to those of passenger cars, with the exception of a few systems such as speed limiters or automatic electronic tolling system which are more relevant for freight vehicles. The consensus of the SRG was that collaboration between freight operators should be achieved by facilitating data sharing, utilising consolidation centres, and improving last mile solutions.

The findings of these deliverables will be key in the further development of the use cases and provide the foundation for subsequent work to look at short-, medium- and long-term impacts.

You can access all the publications and learn more about the project here.

A taxonomy of potential impacts of connected and automated vehicles

LEVITATE is currently building tools to help European cities, regions and national governments prepare for a future with increasing levels of automated vehicles in passenger cars, urban transport services and urban logistics. The project is preparing a new impact assessment framework to enable policy makers to maximise the benefits of connected and automated transport systems (CATS) and utilise the technologies to achieve societal objectives.

Deliverable 3.1: A taxonomy of potential impacts of connected and automated vehicles

Recently several reports have been published within the LEVITATE project. Deliverable 3.1, A taxonomy of potential impacts of connected and automated vehicles at different levels of implementation focuses on the identification of potential impacts of CATs and indicators that can be used to measure these impacts.

D3.1 provides an inventory and classification of impacts of CATS at different levels of implementation and on different topics such as road safety, mobility and efficiency, environment, economy and society. A distinction is made between direct, systemic and wider impacts. Direct impacts are changes that are noticed by each road user on each trip; Systemic impacts are system-wide impacts within the transport system; and wider impacts are changes occurring outside the transport system, such as changes in land use and employment.  Furthermore, a distinction is made between primary impacts and secondary impacts.

The report highlights that the actual impacts of connected and automated transport systems are unknown and will remain so for a long time. However, potential impacts can be identified, and preliminary estimates can be developed. Most analysts believe that a wide implementation of CATS will improve road safety and possibly the efficiency of traffic operations. However, the reliability of automation technology is currently unknown, and there will most likely be unforeseen and rare events that we cannot be taken into account. With regards to policy making, the report points out that highly uncertain estimates of impacts may serve as the basis for identifying policy interventions to increase the likelihood that impacts will be in the desired direction (e.g., policies that can help prevent the urban sprawl that CATs are expected to increase).

The findings of this deliverable will be key in the further development of the use cases and provide the foundation for subsequent work to look at short-, medium- and long-term impacts.

You can access all the publications and learn more about the project here.

Launch of EC’s CCAM platform

The inaugural meeting of the EC’s Connected, Cooperative and Automated Mobility (CCAM) platform was held on 25 and 26 June 2019 in Brussels.

The purpose of this EC platform is twofold: (i) to coordinate efforts related to the open road testing of connective, cooperative and automated mobility in Europe; and (ii) to identify research needs for the imminent European partnership on CCAM research and innovation.

The platform is made up primarily of Member States and approximately 30 associations, including LEVITATE partner Polis.

The plenary session took place on 25 June whereas the kick off meeting of the 6 platform working groups took place the day after on 26 June. The working groups are:

  • WG1: EU agenda for CCAM testing
  • WG2: R&I project coordination
  • WG3: Digital & physical infrastructure
  • WG4: Road safety
  • WG5: Cyber security & in-vehicle data
  • WG6: Connectivity

The membership application process remains open. Click here for more information.

The next meeting of the working groups will take place on 9 September 2019.

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.