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With cars being a taken for granted daily feature of our lives, it is hard to imagine the courage of the drivers of the first vehicles that were not horse drawn… Today, another mobility revolution is just around the corner: the arrival of connected and autonomous vehicles. “This will be a complete paradigm shift,” underlines Francesco Ferrero, Lead Partnership Officer – Mobility, Logistics and Smart Cities at LIST. “Human beings will need to adapt and learn how to use these new technologies and associated services. Otherwise, they will never be adopted.”

The human factor

Together with his colleagues, Mr Ferrero is the driving force behind PAsCAL (“Enhance driver behaviour and Public Acceptance of Connected and Autonomous vehicLes”), a 36-month project funded by Horizon 2020, the EU’s framework programme for research and innovation. Its aim is to create a “Guide 2 Autonomy” that will improve the understanding of the implications of connected and automated vehicles on society, educate future drivers and passengers and help decision makers navigate the transition to this new form of personal mobility.

“We want to investigate people’s expectations regarding automated vehicles, understand their fears and concerns and help design services that will be used and trusted,” says Mr Ferrero. “We will also analyse the behaviour of drivers in semi-autonomous vehicles to see how the human-machine interaction can be as smooth and safe as possible, and study the need for training and certifications.” Another aspect is how to optimise autonomous mobility for people who are not able to drive classical cars, for example the visually impaired.

We want to investigate people’s expectations regarding automated vehicles, understand their fears and concerns and help design services that will be used and trusted.

PAsCAL includes 13 partners from 7 different countries, which will make it possible to conduct studies at the European level. The project will also include practical pilots in different countries. “We will have pilots in Luxembourg and Sweden with high-capacity autonomous buses produced by Volvo, training with driving schools and academies in the UK and Italy, and a pilot with different types of shared connected vehicles in Germany,” Mr Ferrero explains. “We will also do a trial with an application helping people with disabilities, or those who travel with heavy luggage or strollers, move around the transport network of Madrid.”

Research that makes a difference

Putting together such a massive project was a challenge, and LIST called on the expertise of the National Contact Point for Horizon 2020 mobility issues hosted by Luxinnovation. “The call for proposals was complex with a large non-technological component, and Luxinnovation helped us determine what topics were the most interesting to investigate. The agency also helped us to identify other European mobility projects with which we will share experiences, and reviewed the proposal before submission,” says Mr Ferrero. “All in all, we received very valuable support.”

Luxinnovation helped us determine what topics were the most interesting to investigate.

In addition to coordinating the project, LIST will contribute with psychological survey tools, the development of autonomous driving simulators and the analysis of data collected from the various pilots. Three Luxembourg companies are part of the project consortium: the Volvo e-bus competence centre, specialist consultant LuxMobility and Examotive, an R&D-oriented start-up developing new business models for car sharing. Transport provider Sales-Lentz also plays an active supporting role. “Our aim is to conduct applied research that serves a real need, in particular in Luxembourg,” Mr Ferrero points out. “Participating companies are exploring new mobility business opportunities, and PAsCAL can help them get there faster and better.”

This article was originally published in Luxinnovation’s Annual Report 2018.

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