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TRL will lead project to clear the way for autonomous vehicles

While driverless vehicles may still sound like the stuff of science fiction to many veterans of the logistics industry, one team of expert scientists, engineers and specialists is already engaged on a project to pave the way for their introduction on the nation’s roads.


TRL, formerly known as Transport Research Laboratory, has recently been appointed Project Management Lead on the Digital Road for Evolving Connected and Automated Driving (DiREC) project. A two-year programme that forms part of the CEDR (Conference of European Directors of Roads) Transnational Research Programme (TRP), TRL will also be providing technical support to a number of the work packages involved. 


The DiREC project will establish a CAV (Connected and Autonomous Vehicle)-Ready Framework (CRF) for infrastructure to address the ability of highway infrastructure to support Connected and Automated Driving (CAD). The CRF will provide a common vision for improved engagement between National Road Authorities (NRAs), service providers and OEMs and will include tools to help NRAs understand the costs and benefits of delivering different types of infrastructure service to support CAD. 


“DiREC provides a framework for NRAs to develop innovative strategies to meet the challenges presented by Connected and Automated Driving on their networks,” said Alex Wright, Chief Technologist at TRL. “We believe that establishing a CAV-Ready Framework will put the spotlight on what is important to NRAs and their partners when planning the adaptation of their own infrastructure.

“The CRF will establish a clear pathway to help NRAs and other stakeholders make measurable progress to achieve their goals for infrastructure that is ready for CAD. Through this programme we will help NRAs to prepare for the requirements in a targeted and proactive manner.” 


As the levels of CAD increase, there will be greater demand for road networks to provide additional infrastructure and services to improve safety and reduce congestion. The DiREC programme aims to provide a clear picture of the risks, opportunities, impacts, responsibilities, and liabilities surrounding CAD, outlining a clear roadmap to address these alongside the tools to measure the progress being made towards Connected and Automated Vehicle (CAV)-ready networks. 

Other members of the consortium include Technische Universiteit Delft (TUI), Forum of European National Highway Research Laboratories (FEHRL), Arup, Statens väg- och transportforskningsinstitut (VTI) and the Technical Research Center of Finland Ltd (VTT).

Phil Lloyd, Head of Engineering Policy, Logistics UK, said: “The DiREC project offers a glimpse of how our highways may evolve in the coming decades to support the expected driverless vehicle revolution. While much of the technology and innovation it is preparing for may seem to belong to the far future, this is an exciting early indicator of a more connected and automated transport system, which will have profound impacts on the logistics sector as we currently understand it.”


Published On: 16/09/2021 16:00:27


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