CAV driving into the future

Update on connected, self-driving vehicles

By Fatima Ahmed Alkhoori, UAE, IEC 2015 Young Professional Leader

One of the most innovative transportation developments today is Connected and Autonomous Vehicle (CAV) technology. According to U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), CAV is defined as “operation of the vehicle occurs without direct driver input to control the steering, acceleration, and braking; and designed so that the driver is not expected to constantly monitor the roadway while operating in self-driving mode.” 

CAV sensors Communication between vehicles as well as between vehicles and infrastructure brings further improvements in traffic flow and safety (Photo: Audi)

CAV technology is taking off

The development of this technology falls under the Intelligent Transport System (ITS) category, an advanced innovative application that aims to provide smarter modes of transport and traffic management. The main objective of ITS is to enable users to have safer trips and to have smarter, more coordinated use of transport systems. 

According to a recent Boston Consulting Group study, the autonomous car market is estimated to hit USD 42 billion by 2025 and reach USD 77 billion by 2035. The Group projects that by 2025, 0,5% of cars on the roads will be self-driven, while by 2035 this is predicted to reach 9,8% of the market. 

Advantages and disadvantages

As with any innovation, CAV technology brings both advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage is creating a safer environment through:

  • Reduced congestion: applying CAV technology will enable larger road capacity as cars would be able to travel closer to each other.
  • Improved emissions: according to a report published by the Intelligent Transport Society of America (ITSA) Projects, ITS could achieve a 2-4% reduction in oil consumption and related greenhouse gas emissions each year. The vehicles are likely to be electric powered to save on operating costs.
  • Equity: the use of CAV technology will enable everyone to use cars without any difficulties, for example, people with disabilities, younger or elderly could use them. 

One disadvantage of applying CAV technology is cost – as an advanced technology, the cost of CAV is considered to be within the high range. This might restrict some users from entering the market. 

Another disadvantage is labour force implications – since CAV technology is fully automated, it would replace millions of drivers. 

Furthermore, security and privacy need to be considered. Through the Internet, anyone with the right skills and resources could pinpoint the exact location of a person by tracing the vehicle when it is in motion and could then create a log of the person’s movements. 

First international forum in Abu Dhabi

The first International Intelligent and Integrated Innovation Transport Systems Forum was held in Abu Dhabi in September 2015, hosted by the Department of Transport (DoT). The forum had a significant focus on CAV technology. ITS experts from all over the world actively participated and discussions covered the latest developments, applications and solutions of connected and autonomous vehicles. 

Regional moves

One of the major recommendations of the forum was to develop a Middle East ITS organization to assure that CAV technology develops in a standard and equitable way throughout the Middle East. Also it will help ensure that this entity is able to stand alongside similar organizations from the other continents and regions across the world. 

The proposed Middle East ITS organization’s main mission is to represent all national and regional transport organizations (including, in the UAE, Federal and individual Emirate transport ministries or authorities) in order to develop a common vision of the CAV technology, enhance the mobility of people and goods, and further develop the region’s economy. It is planned that the proposed Middle East ITS organization will present its strategy and future plans at the 2016 ITS World Congress, to be held in Melbourne, Australia, in October 2016. 

Masdar City: Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAV) Technology in Abu Dhabi

An example of applied CAV technology in Abu Dhabi can be found at Masdar City, a world-recognized urban development which aims for sustainability and is powered by renewable energy, including as part of its public transport systems. 

Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) vehicles in Masdar City can travel up to 40 km/h on straight roads and at 25 km/h on curves. They are powered by a self-recharging battery system that recharges when vehicles are in stations between trips. These driverless vehicles use an advanced navigation system with magnets embedded in the corridor to know their position and on-board sensors to detect any obstacles in their path. They are linked to the central computer via a wireless connection, guiding them on their journeys and ensuring smooth operation amongst all vehicles. 

The role of International Standards in CAV Technology Development

International Standards can play an increasing role in the faster adoption of CAV technology. As innovation increases, the chance of using CAV technologies across countries will increase. Therefore, the need for unified standards among countries is essential in order to increase the accessibility of this technology. 

The IEC has currently several Technical Committees (TCs) which develop Standards related to CAV technology, for example, TC 69: Electric road vehicles and electric industrial trucks and TC 48: Connectors and connecting devices. Also ISO/IEC Joint Technical Committee (JTC) 1: Information technology, and its Subcommittees (SCs) develop International Standards for vehicle-to-grid communication, interconnection of ICT equipment, user interfaces, data management and security. IEC work ensures that Standards related to Electronic Vehicles (EVs) are developed with the knowledge of electrotechnical experts from around the world. IEC TCs are also studying and addressing important elements related to CAV technology such as safety and security. 

Where to from here?

Today there is a far higher level of connectivity and autonomy in vehicles compared to 10 or 20 years ago. Wider use of CAV technology would help create an innovative environment, which will enable end-users to have easier smart trips. However, for end-users to adopt this technology it might take a long time. Cities need to continue to prepare digital communications infrastructure and technical infrastructure to facilitate wider use of CAV technology. 

Moreover, commercial Connected and Autonomous Vehicles are not yet in the market, and before they arrive, a set of standards and regulations must be agreed among the countries worldwide to ensure that all industrial companies will have the same basic characteristics (e.g. Health and Safety standards) when it comes to CAV technology.

IEC Young Professionals Programme 

This programme brings together the world's upcoming expert engineers, technicians and managers and provides them with opportunities to shape the future of international standardization and conformity assessment in electrotechnology. 

IEC Young Professionals – 2016 Workshop, Frankfurt, Germany

The IEC Young Professionals - 2016 workshop will be held in Frankfurt, Germany, from 10 to 12 October, in parallel with the IEC 2016 General Meeting. Please contact your NC for further information.

CAV sensors Communication between vehicles as well as between vehicles and infrastructure brings further improvements in traffic flow and safety (Photo: Audi)
Masdar UAE PRT Masdar City's electric-powered, driverless PRT vehicles can travel at speeds up to 40kph and are powered by a battery that recharges while vehicles are standing in the stations between trips (Photo: Masdar City)
International ITS Forum Abu Dhabi The first International Intelligent and Integrated Innovation Transport Systems Forum took place in Abu Dhabi City, UAE, on 14-15 September 2015