The Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency has inspected the suitability of the Finnish motorway network for automated driving at a high level of automation and compiled a reference framework for the service level classification of motorways for automated vehicles. In high-level automation, the vehicle is able to handle all driving events within the planned operating environment mainly or entirely without the assistance of the driver.
Preparing for the development of automation requires, among other things, the development of regulation, digital and physical infrastructure and the utilization of information.
The Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency investigated a 160km section of Finnish national road 3, or “VT 3” between Helsinki and Tampere in the AUTOMOTO project that has recently come to a conclusion. The study inspected the support of the physical road environment, communication networks, location and information services, as well as the impact of weather conditions on automated driving. VT 3 was chosen as the test area as it represents a typical road section of the Finnish motorway network.
“During the project, no significant deficiencies were identified that would require immediate action in order to enable automated driving. The motorway design criteria are in order and the support provided by the digital road environment in terms of location, communication networks and information is mostly sufficient, ”says Development Manager
Jari Myllärinen of the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency.
Field surveying was also done regarding location, communication networks and the condition and features of roadways, which produced valuable information and an up-to-date snapshot along VT 3.
In addition, a service-level classification that described the features of physical and digital infrastructure, environmental conditions and traffic control and management relevant to automated driving was produced in the project. In the classification, each feature was assigned a value on a five-tiered scale. At the lowest level, the road and the road environment do not provide specific support for automated driving, while at the highest level, interactive and fully automated traffic is supported.
“Just because a feature is at the lowest level does not mean that automated driving is impossible on the road in question,” says Jari Myllärinen.
Service-Level Classification for Automated Vehicles
This classification gives authorities, vehicle users and developers a clear picture of the infrastructure that is essential for automated traffic and the support it provides for automated driving.
“In the future, the aim is to study and develop especially those features that enable automated driving to continue uninterrupted for as long as possible. This is, of course, also a matter in which the costs and benefits must be taken into account,” continues Myllärinen.
Further research will be directed in particular at the coverage and quality of dynamic and static data, as well as issues regarding road network management and maintenance relevant to the automation.
In addition to providing valuable starting data for further national work, the project also provided inputs for international cooperation contributing to road traffic automation. Similar research is carried out in the EU on the territory of several member countries, but no such extensive and comprehensive inspection on this scale has taken place in the past.
Automation is currently developing in all modes of transport. Automation of transport is an essential part of a functioning transport system in the future. Automation can bring many societal benefits, such as improved road safety, reduced emissions and better services.
Study of infrastructure support and classification for automated driving on Finnish motorways
Jari Myllärinen, Development manager, [email protected]