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CYBERnetic CARS for a new transportation system in the cities

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Research drives towards the cybercar

A cybernetic car system is one of the answers to the ills of inner-city living. A European project Cybercars has put the possibility of the cleaned up city firmly on the map.


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Imagine an urban environment without the noise, pollution and danger of cars - a peaceful place with all amenities. The downside however is not being able to have ready access to all places because of the limitations of public or mass transport. One way of solving this problem once lay in the domain of science fiction movies, the cybernetic car. A small electric driverless vehicle, it would be available on demand and move around in a low density protected infrastructure slightly raised above road level. The EU-funded project Cybercars, an association of universities, electric car manufacturers and vehicle navigation systems experts wholeheartedly agree the cybercar is the solution to a city's transport problems. Providing convenience without the drawbacks of the environmentally-dirty private car, the autopiloted vehicle could revolutionise our cities. Cybercars project researchers aimed to accelerate the development of a cybernetic car network, not only for people, but goods as well. Urban areas would be safer, more secure and less dependent on oil resources. Cities can be more attractive to both businesses and citizens because both demand a better environment. Improvements in technical features already well on the drawing board and at the prototype stage were a particular focus for the project. These include safety systems like collision avoidance and vehicle platooning techniques where the cars move around in swarms with fixed distances between them. Research has shown this is a way of increasing the density of road traffic while simplifying the complexity of traffic control and improving the controllability of traffic. In short, this means the end of the traffic jam. As for the infrastructure the researchers investigated human-machine interfaces, energy management and remote operation. A lifesize experiment was set up in the Swiss city of Lausanne to test all the parameters and systems. Possible problems are being tackled, the main one being the legal constraints of certification for the systems. Information is being disseminated through the web site, conferences and workshops to give the new systems a fighting chance for adoption in European cities. Future prospects would see a system where the private car could use the cyber network system. Gaining the advantages of controlled safety systems fused with human intelligence in the hybrid system could bring the best of both worlds for many users. The Cybercars team are providing all the technology required for the cybercar to be a major option to complement mass transit systems. Given backing from decision and policy makers, short trips throughout the city need no longer be stressful for the driver and a major source of pollution and danger.

Project information

Grant agreement ID: IST-2000-28487

  • Start date

    1 August 2001

  • End date

    31 July 2004

Funded under:


  • Overall budget:

    € 5 066 673

  • EU contribution

    € 2 489 385

Coordinated by: