LEVITATE partner in the spotlight

Questions to Helmut Augustin, City of Vienna

Q: Please, introduce yourself shortly: what do you do in Vienna and what is your role in the LEVITATE project?

A: My name is Helmut Augustin. I hold a degree in Urban Planning. I have been working for the Vienna City Administration since 2004, currently in the Urban Planning Department, Section Mobility Strategies, as head of the Coordination Unit for Digitisation. I cover quite a big range of topics including (geo)data, quantitative analytics, data protection, Intelligent Transport Systems, Automated Driving and Geographical Information Systems.

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

A: I think the most important thing is that we bring in the perspective of a local government and a road authority. I think it is crucial to add this perspective to the discourse about CAVs (Connected and Automated Vehicles) which is otherwise quite industry-driven.

Q: What are Vienna’s views on and vision for connected and automated transport systems in an urban context?

A: We welcome CAVs if they are able to contribute to our smart city goals, in other words, they help us remain one of the most liveable cities. But our general approach is: Autonomous Vehicles must adapt to the needs of the city and its inhabitants, not the other way round.

An important point is how an automated transport system affects space consumption. Space is scarce in cities. It must be used as efficiently as possible. The most space-efficient and energy-efficient transport modes are by far walking, cycling and mass transit. There is an impressive picture by We Ride Australia which illustrates this. Therefore, we see CAVs as complementing, not competing with public transport. So, they should primarily operate in peripheral areas and between, not parallel to major axes of public transport, where current systems of public transport have weaknesses.

Another important point is compact settlement structures, including in rural areas, because CAVs might promote longer driving distances and consequently urban sprawl.

Q: What about safety?

A: This is primarily a topic for the national and European level. Our request is that CAVs must deal with conventional traffic participants, especially in mixed traffic with pedestrians and cyclists. Of course, CAVs must not expect vulnerable road users to be equipped with electronic safety devices.
CAVs shall only be permitted if proven to be significantly safer than human drivers.
CAVs must be safe on their own and responsible for their actions.

Q: Will automated driving require lots of new roadside infrastructure?

A: ITS roadside infrastructure might provide additional layers of safety. But CAVs must never rely primarily on ITS infrastructure, or they will be restricted to use specially equipped corridors only. Our position is that CAVs shall adapt to public spaces, not the other way round. They must be able to deal with the existing traffic guidance facilities.

I believe the possible shortcomings of CAVs at the current state of technical maturity should not be compensated by costly public roadside infrastructure. Rather this is a task for R&D units of automotive manufacturers. In this respect we need to ensure that international standardisation is not at the expense of those who maintain public roads.

Q: And what about dedicated lanes?

A: Cities have made great efforts in reducing barriers in urban space. They have constructed bridges, under- and overpasses, crosswalks and passageways. The goal is a walkable city and attractive public space.  Dedicated lanes, especially those with physical barriers, clearly do not comply with this strategy.

In contrast we can imagine that CAVs offer new opportunities for attractive public space and liveable streets. CAVs follow regulations, are supposed to be safe and eco-friendly. Thus, they might work a lot better in shared spaces than conventional cars currently do, once initial technical weaknesses are overcome.

Q: Will CAV change the way traffic management works?

A: Traffic Management is increasingly driven by algorithms and data. We must therefore increasingly target Navigation-Systems rather than human drivers. As data-based traffic management and decision support requires data, public authorities need access to this data, including in-vehicle generated data. Of course, we only require statistical, fully anonymized data.

My vision would be that dynamic and comprehensive incentive systems manage the traffic flow. Routing is based on the optimum for the whole system (rather than individual optima). System overloads can be detected in advance and minimized. And as already mentioned: AV services complement, not compete with public transport.

Q: When do you think automated transport systems are going to be widespread in urban areas?

A: This is really hard to answer. Let me ask more pertinent questions. The critical point is not when CAVs will arrive in urban areas. Rather the critical questions are: Will cities be ready in time? In which framework will CAVs operate then? Which rules will they follow?

Q: Will Vienna be ready in time for a future with CAVs?

A: We are working on that on different levels and aspects. One important contribution will come from the LEVITATE project. This should help us getting a deeper understanding of the effects different policy options might have.
So being optimistic, I would conclude, “yes, we will be ready in time!”.

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.

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