The Finnish Transport Agency and Trafi have launched the Arctic Challenge research project which aims to solve problems caused to the automation of road traffic by northern winter conditions. The project involves carrying out field experiments with automated vehicles in the Aurora test environment located in Fell Lapland in 2017 –
2019. Research agreements have been concluded with three groups consisting of companies and research institutions.
In the future, the automation of road traffic is expected to improve traffic safety, reduce road traffic emissions and enable smoother traffic flow.
”Here in Finland we hold the keys to solving the challenge posed by winter to the automation of road traffic, and this research project will allow us to demonstrate our competence also as part of the international discussion on automation. On average, Finland has snow cover for around three to eight months per year. In the future, the safe operation of automated vehicles must also be ensured during those months. For instance, there is a need for increasingly accurate positioning and maps on the location of vehicles when the road surface is covered by snow and ice”, emphasises Anna Schirokoff, Chief Adviser at Trafi.
Intelligent infrastructure as an information provider
In the future, an intelligent infrastructure will produce information for the purposes of vehicles. The project explores the positioning of vehicles in two ways: based on map and satellite data as well as based on marker posts and ploughing poles by the roadside.
”The aim is to determine what kind of marker posts and ploughing poles should be used and where these should be located to enable automated vehicles to use them in determining their positions on the road”, explains Ilkka Kotilainen, Project Manager at the Finnish Transport Agency.
The snowy and icy conditions of the north challenge automated vehicles
The second emphasis of the project involves investigating the remote control of vehicles under difficult conditions as well as the automatic messages sent to drivers and vehicles on disruptions to traffic and difficult conditions.
”In addition to the messages on disruptions, automated vehicles will also benefit from remote control in certain situations. For example, in the future, logistics companies can use remote control as part of their remote monitoring of lorries”, Schirokoff continues.
The Arctic Challenge research project is funded by the Finnish Transport Agency and Trafi. The project is part of the Aurora intelligent road project of the Finnish Transport Agency and the NordicWay2 project funded by the Connecting Europe Facility of the European Union. The testing weeks of the research project will take place on the 10-km-long test stretch of the Aurora Vt21 (E8) intelligent road section in years 2017 – 2019. The project is part of the Traffic Lab cooperation. The contracting partners involved in the research project include Dynniq Finland Oy, Indagon Oy, Infotripla Oy, Lapland University of Applied Sciences Oy, Roadscanners Oy, Sensible 4 Oy and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd.