In the winter testing information is relayed to the vehicles on upcoming hazards, while tracking the vehicle’s precise in all road conditions. Results from earlier weeks of the Arctic Challenge research projects will be coming in as the final weeks begin in March and April on the intelligent road in Muonio.
The Arctic Challenge research project, funded by the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency and the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom, is working with 15 companies to find solutions to challenges in the automation of road transport in road conditions affected by ice and snow. All four areas of the project will be examined in the weeks of testing: marker posts and snow plough guide markers, messages anticipating traffic conditions, such as a warning about a stopped vehicle on a road, remote steering, and wireless transfer of information as well as location information and positioning. The project was launched in 2017 and the final results will be reported in 2019.
“In the project companies will be seeking solutions to enable the use of automatic vehicles in challenging northern conditions. The anticipated benefits of automated transport for safety, traffic flow, and the environment will be possible in Finland only if year-round operations of the vehicles are ensured. The final results of the project, which will come in 2019, will make it possible to both develop automation and to make possible recommendations for action by authorities on matters such as highway infrastructure”, says Project Manager Niklas Fieandt at the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency.
“We are enthusiastically looking forward to the final weeks of testing. The remote guidance of vehicles using the mobile communications network and other tests will undoubtedly bring new understanding on how automatic cars operate in all types of weather. From the Finnish point of view, it is important to include the challenges of winter transport in the international discussion on automation”, notes Project Manager Ilkka Kotilainen at the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency.
Testing new services and innovations to benefit future road users
In November VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd. together with Infotripla Oy, Dynniq Finland Oy, and Indagon Oy carried out a service experiment for vehicles that communicate with each other. In the experiment the mobile communications network was used to send a warning to the driver about a vehicle stopped on the side of the road. Previously a similar experiment was conducted using short-range radio technology. “The current mobile communications network works well on the Muonio Intelligent Road. However, much development is still needed in services offered to motorists and in their interoperability”, notes Risto Öörni from VTT.
Sensible 4 Oy, which together with MUJI, will introduce the first robot bus suitable for winter use in Helsinki in March, heads a group of eight companies. The results of the beginning of the year were achieved by comparing point cloud map data from vehicles used in different conditions and the accuracy in pinpointing the location of a vehicle. “We have been able to pinpoint the location of a vehicle to an accuracy of about 20 centimetres using a point cloud map produced in summer and winter conditions by using laser scanning”. The impact of the results of the measurements will be utilised in the development of an automatic vehicle and analysed in findings to be released later”, says Harri Santamala, CEO of Sensible 4 Oy.
A labour consortium formed by Lapland University of Applied Sciences Ltd. and Roadscanners Oy will provide plastic-encased marker posts developed in connection with the project, which contain aluminium reflectors. “In the week of testing we experimented with more than 100 marker posts developed in connection with the project to see how radar sensors would be able to detect them, and thus improve the pinpointing of the location of an automatic vehicle. “After this we will get to evaluate the effects”, says Matti Autioniemi, Project Manager at the Lapland University of Applied Sciences.
Preparations for final testing weeks at the Muonio Intelligent Road
The last weeks of testing in the Arctic Challenge research project will be in March and April. Winter conditions are ensured by the location of the testing, which is in Muonio, on the ten-kilometre Intelligent Road that supports automatic driving.
Preparations for the final weeks of testing involve work including the design of remote guidance of a vehicle using the data communications network and authenticating the functionality of data services for road conditions. Increasing numbers of automatic vehicles will be seen on the Muonio Intelligent Road. The final results of the project will be published in 2019.