The European project NEARCTIS has ended in June. The partners, that include EPFL’s Transportation Centre and four EPFL labs have agreed to build a virtual centre of excellence to put traffic control and management on the EU Horizon 2020 agenda.
Vehicles developed in the near future will be technically advanced and intelligent. Cameras and other sensors in these cars will scan the immediate environment, and wireless technologies will provide continuous communication with other vehicles and systems along the road. With such a cooperative system an external form of guidance – traffic management – will be essential. This is the core idea behind the European-funded project NEARCTIS (Network of Excellence for Advanced Road Cooperative Traffic management in the Information Society) that gathered 9 prominent institutions including EPFL. It ended in June with several key achievements.
In five years, NEARCTIS accomplished the three main objectives set in 2008, at its birth. First, the collaboration developed a common research agenda in the field of cooperative traffic control and management. Second, it worked on the dissemination of the wide body of knowledge already available, not only by issuing reports but also by educating the thought leaders of tomorrow. Third, NEARCTIS founded a European virtual centre of excellence in cooperative traffic control and management that would serve as an independent knowledge institute and liaison for this important topic in the development of the Horizon 2020 programme.
NEARCTIS identified seven research themes that could be put at the research agenda. The first two – communication technologies and access to ‘big data’ – would facilitate realising this vision. The next three include the estimation, prediction and modelling of traffic operations at all scales (from intersections to entire networks); the control and communication logic needed at all scales (from vehicle-to-vehicle automation to area-wide routing and scheduling); and the interactions between the many objects and processes involved (e.g. coordination between users, between users and road managers and between automated and manual systems). The final two research themes relate to the ‘producers’: the application areas that include the actual transport systems, and the decision support tools for helping policymakers plan, manage and operate these systems.
Regarding education, NEARCTIS proposed a structure consisting of five new professional courses for cooperative traffic management that would be provided at a standard level throughout European. NEARCTIS also initiated its own new training programme that consolidated multidisciplinary competences and offered advanced courses in the most relevant disciplines.
Finally, the virtual centre of excellence will start with the former members of NEARCTIS, including the coordinator Pierre-Yves Gilliéron from TOPO, and aims to put in place a more formal association. EPFL’s laboratories LAVOC, TRANSP-OR and LUTS also participated at the NEARCTIS project.