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Research overview

Road vehicles are becoming more and more advanced and many functions that support drivers in various traffic situations (e.g., Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning, Pedestrian Safety) are already on the market. It is expected that this trend will continue, and that future Connected, and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) will be capable of handling most of the manoeuvring and control functions of the vehicle in all traffic scenarios. In urban settings, this will mean that CAVs will be required to interact with pedestrians, cyclists, and other non-motorised road users. Not only would this require the CAVs to reliably detect such other road users, but it would also require that non-motorised road users will need to interact with CAVs which are equipped with different levels of automation. Hence this could require potentially different response requirements in different scenarios for such interactions to happen safely.

Although it is not certain yet when fully autonomous vehicles will ever be functional on roads, there is some speculation that by 2040, most fleets on the roads will be at least semi-autonomous. Therefore, pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and CAVs will have to learn to co-exist.

Studies on the interaction between CAVs and VRUs are relatively limited in number. Therefore, it is difficult to both estimate the safety effects of a transition towards automated vehicles and identify the actions to minimize the risk that interactions between automated vehicles and non-automated road users cause and as to whether they induce unsafe situations and accidents. ICAROS aims to address the following research questions:

  • How prevalent are VRU accidents within international accident statistics? (specifically, within the UK, China, and Australia – see below)
  • How are common scenarios for VRU accidents and how might these scenarios change following the introduction of CAVs?
  • What are the potential advantages of the introduction of CAVs for Vulnerable Road Users?
  • What are the future data requirements to monitor the effects of CAVs on Vulnerable Road Users?
  • What recommendations can we make so that CAVs and VRUs can safely co-exist?