With initial testing completed, members of the public are now invited to join the trial of the NordicWay Coop project, aimed to improve road safety by allowing drivers to send and receive messages about potentially risky road conditions.
HERE has been working with the Finnish Transport Agency, the Finnish Transport Safety Agency and other organisations to deploy a co-operative intelligent transport system (C-ITS) based on messages passed over standard cellular networks and orchestrated by the HERE location cloud. Drivers can effectively warn every other road user approaching the area, and alert the authorities, about obstructions on the road, unprotected accident areas or poor visibility in two taps.
Ilkka Kotilainen of the Finnish Transport Agency explains: “This is an EU-funded project aiming for better traffic safety. Unlike other solutions which require expensive new roadside infrastructure, this project uses drivers’ own smartphones and current mobile phone networks. This makes it fast to implement and cost-effective.” Once complete, the NordicWay project aims to cover roads with connected vehicles and smart phones in Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark.
The smartphone app is simple to use, according to Ilkka: “The driver simply has to touch a button and then choose from three options. It takes less than two seconds and conforms to EU guidelines for safe use.”
The technology is different to existing peer-to-peer traffic apps in that messages are collected and analysed by the HERE location cloud and Traffic Management Authorities. “The authorities can assign a confidence level, and co-ordinate its own response to problems such as obstructions on the road,” Ilkka tells us.
“The initial tests last year were really promising and showed us that the service can be delivered over normal mobile phone networks,” he continues. “Latency is very low. Messages take less than two seconds at the maximum to be received, analysed and then distributed to the relevant vehicles on the roads.”
Following private testing to establish the technical feasibility and performance levels of the scheme, says Ilkka, “We are now inviting everyone to join a public pilot. We’re looking for up to 1000 test users to take part in trying out the system on the highway between Helsinki and Turku, and Ring Roads I and III around Helsinki itself.”
Ilkka is looking forward to seeing how an increased number of users affects the system and how it will evolve through use. “The one-year trial will help us to establish the confidence levels that we assign to messages. We’re also still in the process of understanding the best ways to communicate information to users.”
The pilot app allows participants to send and receive messages on any Android device with a SIM card and version 4.4 of the operating system, or higher. If you use the roads involved and want to take part, you can find out more and apply on the NordicWay Coop website.
The Traffic Management Center (TMC) interface for the system was created by Infotripla, a Finnish traffic information management specialist. Its managing director, Kimmo Ylisiurunen, told us that working together with HERE and other participants meant a better overall service: “Collaboration between several companies is valuable for all organisations involved. Every company and organisation can provide and focus their development to the building blocks in which they have expertise to build an even more competitive and efficient ecosystem for safe driving.”
If you’d like to take a closer look at the technology, there will be a demonstration at the ITS European Congress in Glasgow (Booth C60: ITS Finland), opening on June 6. Both the app and the TMC interface will be on display, showing live information from Finland.
At ITS you can also hear speakers from HERE on a wide number of topics around traffic systems, road safety, preparing for automated vehicles and more. In particular, look out for the special interest session moderated by Mika Rytkönen from HERE on ‘Improving road safety, efficiency and sustainability in Europe’ on Tuesday 7 June. Participants from government agencies and the automotive industry will focus on recent developments, innovations and deployments aiming to create innovative solutions, while meeting the safety and sustainability targets set by the European Commission.
Do come along!
image credit: Mika Heittola