Nordic Way3 is developing smart transport solutions for Nordic cross-border traffic – the project revolves around information exchange and automation

What would you say to the idea of your car being able to communicate seamlessly with roadside signs, emergency vehicles and traffic lights? And what if, by 2050, fatal road accidents could be prevented with the aid of smart traffic solutions?

The Nordic Way3 project is seeking to develop smart logistics solutions for cross-border traffic, and in particular C-ITS (Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems) solutions for urban environments in Nordic conditions. The project is linked to the EU Commission’s strategy, in which safety is being enhanced through networked vehicles, the faster exchange of accurate information, and preemptive driving skills. The Commission’s strategy aims to halve the number of fatal road accidents by 2023, and to prevent them altogether by 2050.

“Cooperation among the Nordic countries is fruitful, as we have similar weather conditions and a long history of working together. Cooperation is easy, resources can be centralised more efficiently, and we’re an esteemed group at EU level,” says Anna Schirokoff, Chief Adviser at Traficom, the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency.

The Finnish participants in the project are Traficom, the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency, Fintraffic, and the Cities of Helsinki, Tampere and Vantaa. In addition to the countries’ official transport agencies, the participants from Sweden, Norway and Denmark also include private operators and cities. Sweden is coordinating the project as a whole, and Traficom Finland’s part in the project.

“Finland’s activities are guided by municipal needs and the Government’s decision in principle under preparation to promote traffic automation. We can launch pilot projects to support national targets on the basis of the automation plan,” says Schirokoff.

Subprojects analyse the foundation for automated traffic

In the future, digital traffic rules could help vehicles to react to traffic signs and signals without the intervention of a human driver. Research into digital traffic rules has focused on analysing what kind of digital traffic rules would promote traffic safety and flow, and what their implementation would require.

“We’ve been examining digital traffic rules from the perspective of three user stories: current speed limit information; information about local height restrictions and other restrictions on special transports and heavy goods vehicles; and information about moving vehicles, such as roadwork vehicles. The stories are strongly connected to automation and, for example, how warnings about roadworks and weather conditions can be communicated to road users in advance,” says Project Manager Niklas Fieandt from the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency.

“In the AUTOMOTO subproject, we’ve been analysing the existing highway network’s suitability for automated vehicles from the perspective of both passenger cars and truck convoys. We’ve studied things such as physical and digital road infrastructure, communication networks and location services,” says Development Manager Jari Myllärinen from the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency.

The AUTOMOTO subproject has also developed a service classification framework to indicate which services a section of road will provide for automated driving in each road category.

“The current classification is the first of its kind for Nordic conditions. It’s still evolving, and will be further developed with the aid of additional studies and possibly also practical tests,” says Petri Antola, a specialist at the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency.

Information exchange and automation particularly important in unexpected traffic conditions

Information exchange is particularly important in unexpected traffic conditions, such as accidents, congestion, roadworks and changes in the weather. In the future, warnings or bulletins about exceptional circumstances like these could be sent automatically to a road user’s vehicle. One of the project’s goals is to build an information exchange platform that collates important data for traffic safety and flow.

“For example, in the future, a warning light could begin flashing on the dashboard of a vehicle driving down the highway to alert the driver to an approaching emergency vehicle long before it could be seen or heard,” says Fintraffic Project Manager Olli Rossi.

During the project, Fintraffic will be running various pilots related to the information exchange platform, traffic lights, and emergency vehicle alerts. The pilots will be seeking practical solutions for exchanging information between vehicles, off-road infrastructure and road network authorities with the aim of improving safety. An additional goal will be to find a technical solution for seamlessly integrating all of the traffic data into the information exchange system.

A Pan-European information exchange platform

Common standards and operating models are the key to safe automated driving. Although the project is seeking compatible solutions for use in the Nordic countries, the ultimate goal is to create a Pan-European information exchange platform.

A common platform will enrich data and create opportunities for sharing a more diverse range of data between the parties involved. The quality of the data would also improve, thereby enabling new operating models for companies in the transport sector. An information exchange platform would make it possible to collate all of the data that promotes safe and smooth traffic flow in one place, as this data has previously been stored in equipment suppliers’ and other operators’ own limited systems.

Traffic automation and information exchange is a broad subject area in which everything is interconnected. Cooperation is vital, both for making effective progress and putting the available resources to the best use. In the future, the various parties involved in the project want to launch cross-border pilots to concretise and test the results of the studies carried out in the Nordic Way3 subproject.

Further information

Traficom: Chief Adviser Anna Schirokoff, anna.schirokoff(at), tel. +358 29 534 5268