The main goal of this project is the development and testing of a microwave link for automatic two-way data-communication between vehicles and the roadside. The potential of such a link for use for vehicle identification, monitoring, control and road pricing is very great. Many of the technical advances in the RTI field will depend upon the successful outcome of this research. In seeking to develop and test a suitable data-communications link that is reliable, robust, secure and immune from environmental disturbances, the partners in this project are united in the view that microwave technology is the most appropriate medium. An early decision will be required, however, on the most suitable frequency on which to standardize for the main applications envisaged.
Equipment has been developed to facilitate 2-way data communication between a moving vehicle and a fixed roadside station for nonstop automatic debiting applications such as road tolling, road use pricing and car parking. The heart of the system is a reliable high capacity, short range microwave communications link. Above all, the link must be reliable and have the ability to allow communications between roadside beacons and vehicles' transponders at high speed (up to 160 km/hour) in both a single lane and unrestricted multilane environment. The onboard unit consists of a small size transponder mounted in the windscreen of a vehicle, which will contain the necessary communications circuits and a dedicated microprocessor, as well as the ability to interface to other peripheral equipment in the vehicle (ie smart card reader, display, keyboard, central processing unit, sensors, etc.
2 important areas of application were chosen for the demonstration tests, namely, automatic tolling and parking control and pricing. These probably represent the most immediate and promising areas of Europewide application of this technology. However, future applications of the technology, such as cordon based road use pricing and congestion monitoring and pricing, have also been catered for in the design.
A prototype was made available on 08/25/92
The aim of the research programme, entitled PAMELA (pricing and monitoring electronically of automobiles), was to devise a generic automatic debiting system which will be able to support a number of different applications such as road tolling, road pricing and car parking debiting. The system which was developed consists of 3 different modules:
a physical interface between the roadside and vehicle equipment (microwave data link);
the transponders, logic circuits and other in vehicle equipment;
the roadside charging station and central control interface.
The following field trials are performed on the system:
high speed, nonstop, automatic tolling by prepayment;
on street car parking debiting and management;
multivehicle, multilane communications for road use pricing in free flow, high speed traffic.
The project comprises a coherent set of tasks that runs right across the DRIVE programme, from strategy through system-specification, design and fabrication to eventual testing in the field. Thus, a main task (T118) involves the strategic context of overall demand-management of traffic, within which the more detailed considerations of vehicle-identification, monitoring and automatic debiting will be implemented. Likewise, another main task (T331) provides scope for the further research and development of the microwave system to achieve a full two-way capability with the necessary accuracy, range and bandwidth. This will enable developed prototype systems to be incorporated in the field-trials that are planned, to demonstrate their performance under real traffic conditions.
Alongside the technical research and development work, therefore, substantial resources will go into the specification and design of these field-trials, so that the feasibility of this new communications-link can be tested. Two important areas of application have been chosen for the demonstration tests: namely, automatic tolling (T312/T331) and parking control and pricing (T312/331). These probably represent the most immediate and promising areas of Europe-wide application using this technology. Finally, the results of monitoring each of these field-tests will be evaluated to establish, in broad social cost-benefit terms, the likely returns from large-scale investment in this new technology to tackle RTI problems.
Finally, although the project will not cover the crucial issue of standards and protocols (i.e. Tasks T505-T508), individual members of the consortium are involved in international working parties that are confronting these questions. The concern of the consortium as a whole is that, in the general desire to standardize, far-reaching decisions, particularly as regards the microwave frequency to be adopted, are not reached too soon. A major report on this would be presented for the first year's annual review.
Prototype of a microwave communications system for a number of RTI applications.
Recommendations for implementation of such a system.