To be successful, future Connected and Autonomous Vehicles must be fully and safely integrated into the future mobility environment. Therefore, ICAROS will bring together the collective knowledge, skills, resources and facilities of the 3 universities and associate partners to tackle key emerging issues related to the rapid transition towards CAVs within the transport system.
Associated with the introduction of CAVs on the roads are a range of technical and ethical challenges. The Vulnerable Road Users are a large societal sector likely to be significantly affected by CAVs are the Vulnerable Road-Users (VRUs – including pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, young child passengers of vehicles, older road-users, sensory-impaired road-users etc., so called as they are more vulnerable to injury in the event of road-crashes).
Some of the key research questions relating to the impact of CAVs on VRUs include;
- How can CAVs be fully integrated into future mobility systems to ensure that the benefits of CAVs are experienced by all members of society especially VRUs?
- Internal VRUs (CAV passengers) – should crashes occur, how can children, elderly, impaired and other vulnerable groups be protected when they may be seated in non-standard positions and may be unrestrained?
- External VRUs – how can CAVs successfully detect pedestrians, cyclists and other VRUs and predict their behaviours in order to identify and avoid collision risks?
- What are the specific requirements for CAVs to interact appropriately with VRUs? How can we develop transparent two-way communication between the vehicle and human?
Recent (2018) UK data suggest that VRUs are now much more likely to be killed in urban traffic accidents compared to car occupants.Of even greater concern is that there is scant recognition of the full impact that the introduction of CAVs will have on the VRU group. The associated objectives of ICAROS are therefore;
- To utilise investment funding to undertake internationally leading research that will save lives and prevent injuries;
- To develop a co-ordinated research agenda and knowledge-exchange across the 3 organisations; and to promote the agenda through collaborative research;
- To utilise investment funding to develop a PhD level skills-base thereby ensuring a pipeline of world-leading researchers in the field of VRU safety;
- To influence research-funders to support this challenge;
- To establish an advisory group of international stakeholders to ensure the programme is closely aligned with the research needs of practitioners globally;
- To maximise the opportunity for each partner to benefit from national research investments – and through sharing of such investment to provide three times the benefit of UK-only funding;
- To ensure that the centre and the partnership is sustainable and will continue to operate at both a high strategic and research level well beyond the end of the funding period.
The many safety challenges of CAVs require expertise in mechanical, civil, biomechanical and human factors engineering relating to traffic safety in the real-world; these are unique skills that each institution can demonstrate.
Combining research strengths will allow ICAROS to have global influence through the planned schedule of research initiatives and international dissemination events. These will shape developments in CAV technology and safety, particularly at societal level.