Connected & Autonomous Vehicles and road infrastructure
Self-driving vehicles would be a solution to many traffic and transport-related problems that are pressing today. Or not? When and under what conditions would all these promises be kept? BRRC and representatives of road authorities, the automobile sector, public transport companies, research institutes, etc. are attempting to outline the state of affairs in this rapidly evolving matter. In particular, to get a picture of how infrastructure could or should evolve so that it does not inhibit the future deployment of self-driving vehicles, but rather contributes to their successful introduction.
For the time being, however, the human road user remains the starting point in the design and construction of road infrastructure, with that road user increasingly being supported by technological developments. In order for this support to function optimally, major infrastructural adjustments do not seem immediately necessary. Recognisable and harmonised signage (possibly communication technology ready) and sustainable and qualitative road surfaces seem to be the most important needs of the developers of self-driving vehicles at the moment.
Self-driving vehicles are becoming safer, more environmentally friendly, more efficient, more accessible, etc. For some, they also become more pleasant to use. More than just a new way of moving around, self-driving vehicles can play a role in the mobility of the future. (Shared) (rides with) selfdriving vehicles can be an addition to public transport. Testing with shuttles that today operate over a limited fixed route, usually outside the public domain, may evolve into flexible on-demand services in the future. Depending on the role of self-driving vehicles in the transport system of the future, the importance of certain infrastructural facilities (drop-off & pick-up zones, car parks with additional facilities, etc.) will change. Much depends on the choices made for that future transport system. The text outlines a number of possible evolutions, especially for the urban environment.
In this report, we explore the future, and discuss possibilities for responding to it. The report provides insight into ‘no regret’ measures in the field of road infrastructure. In addition, we sketch the bigger picture: road infrastructure is an essential condition for transport, but obviously has close interfaces with other aspects of society and the transport system in particular.
Probably the future will look different to some extent after all. Within 10 years, there may be opportunities that we can’t even dream of today. However, the gradual deployment of self-driving vehicles forces us to think about the future we want and how the undoubtedly still necessary transport will happen. The introduction of self-driving vehicles offers the opportunity to shape that future rather than undergo it.