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Better infrastructure safety on urban and secondary rural roads throughout a combination of adaptable monitoring and maintenance solutions

Road infrastructure can be improved to decrease the risk of crashes and other incidents as well as crash severity. The benefits of this will be amplified in a connected transport system where automated or partially automated vehicles are supported by infrastructure features to perform as expected. In addition, road infrastructure can provide clear guidance towards desirable road user behaviour, which may lead to more predictable behaviour, and consequently to less crashes.

It is essential to understand how to upgrade the infrastructure network to make it compatible with all road users (e.g. powered two-wheelers are not considered as users for which urban infrastructures are usually designed) and in particular with automated vehicles at different levels of automation. The research should focus on urban and secondary rural networks as most of the resources for upgrading the road network is often devoted to primary networks (with specific attention to the Trans-European Road Network). For urban and secondary roads, resources are generally limited, and potential negative impact of roadworks on the surrounding territory is extremely relevant. Low-cost interventions with low negative impact need to be studied for these roads.

Advanced monitoring, warning and maintenance techniques need to be developed to guarantee a timely assessment of the operating conditions of road structures and furniture. Recent events have highlighted the importance of roadside safety devices monitoring, but also proper signs and marking, pavement and overall road structures (bridges, tunnels etc.).

The results of the research will enhance the safety level of the infrastructure by enabling a prompt reaction to potentially unsafe conditions and will enable to identify the infrastructures where connected, automated vehicles can travel under safe conditions.

Aspects to be addressed are expected to include:

  • Connection of infrastructure elements to the digitalised ecosystem, including but not limited to research on digital twins.
  • Identification of criteria to perform safety assessments of urban and secondary rural roads accounting also for new users (including but not limited to powered two-wheelers, e-bikes etc.) and to identify cost effective upgrade solutions.
  • Further development of infrastructure measures to elicit desired road user behaviour.
  • Pilot testing of selected interventions in at least three sites.

In addition, actions should address at least three out of the following aspects:

  • Integration of safety and V2I issues in asset management to ensure that the infrastructure is always capable to provide the minimum required level of performance to provide safe travel conditions for automated vehicles (ISAD concept).
  • Development of new technology for monitoring and communicating in real time infrastructure distress conditions and deterioration. This should include malfunctioning and post impact warning for road equipment and Infrastructure.
  • Development of onsite data storage and communication systems (e.g. RFID) capable to provide in real time details on the properties of the road equipment relevant to road safety.
  • Use of data from connected probe vehicles to detect safety relevant conditions and collect maintenance indicators.
  • Development of new maintenance techniques for road equipment with low negative impact on the surroundings (including but not limited to roadside safety features, signs and marking, lighting).

Actions should be based on the results of previous EU projects.