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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-12-033    Date:  December 2012
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-12-033
Date: December 2012


The Exploratory Advanced Research Program

Recent International Activity in Cooperative Vehicle–Highway Automation Systems


During the past decade, the level of activity in cooperative vehicle–highway automation systems (CVHAS) has increased significantly in Japan and Europe, whereas it has remained at a relatively low level in the United States. This research project was initiated to create a summary of the current state of CVHAS development and thinking about these systems in other countries and to help inform decisions about future related activities in the United States. This review has identified the following salient points associated with international activities:

The following section addresses the current CVHAS highlights by region.


Two different Directorates General (DGs) of the European Commission (EC) are currently sponsoring the primary automation projects in Europe. Their approaches are quite different, but they held a joint workshop in October 2011 to review current progress and to define the needs for future work with the hope that such automation projects can be better coordinated. DG-CONNECT (Communications Networks, Content and Technology, formerly DG-INFSO (Information Society and Media)) is tightly coupled to the automobile industry; thus, their current projects (i.e., HAVEit and SMART-64) have emphasized partial automation systems that operate in mixed traffic, building on the sensor technologies that are already being used for collision warning and adaptive cruise control (ACC) systems. DG-RTD (Research and Innovation) is more multi-modal in perspective, and its current projects, CityMobil and SARTRE (SAfe Road TRains for the Environment), have emphasized urban transit and trucking applications. CityMobil in particular has considered how to separate automated vehicles from other traffic (including vulnerable road users) to ensure safety.


Germany sponsored the KONVOI project to investigate the benefits and deployment issues associated with truck platooning, with truck platoons assumed to be operating in mixed traffic on autobahns. More recently, Germany has been studying the legal aspects of vehicle automation systems to determine what legal changes may be needed and how these relate to different levels of vehicle automation (which they defined very carefully and precisely).

The Netherlands

The Netherlands has emphasized cooperative system applications in their national programs, with work on cooperative ACC (CACC) and precursor systems that seek to smooth out traffic dynamics by advising drivers when to accelerate and decelerate. The Netherlands has invested heavily in a testbed environment on a 5-km (3-mi) section of road between Eindhoven and Helmond, where they have already held several high–profile demonstrations and which they are offering as a general European testbed.


The automation work in France has been concentrated in its research institutes, which have a substantial heritage of relevant work on both enabling technologies and systems. France is studying partial automation systems, as well as systems for shuttling vehicles among nearby sites at low speeds and without drivers.


Japan has one of the most ambitious automation projects, with the Energy ITS Project of its Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry developing and testing an automated platoon of three heavy trucks designed to operate at short enough gaps to produce significant savings in aerodynamic drag. In addition, the Japanese automotive OEMs are experimenting with ACC system interactions and exploring CACC to smooth out traffic disturbances and also to save energy and CO2 emissions.


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