One of the European Union's primary transport research considerations is research and development on Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) with the objective of making transport more efficient and effective, safer and more environmentally friendly.
A major focus of research over the last few years has been 'driver hypo vigilance' as a cause of road accidents. Some previous EU projects dealt with the development of an unobtrusive, reliable system, which monitored the driver and the environment and detected in real time hypo vigilance, based on multiple parameters (e.g. the AWAKE and PReVENT projects).
The I-Way project was developed to take this process forward, in order to increase road safety and transport efficiency by achieving the following goals:
- To increase safety in road transport by empowering the information exchange among vehicles, and between vehicles and the surveillance control system, and by providing vehicles with active sensors that recognise driver fatigue and act on it.
- To improve traffic management control by providing vehicles with on car sensors that recognise:
- weather conditions
- distance from various types of obstacle on the road, including vehicles
- the road shape and
- driver fatigue.
- To make transport more efficient and effective by supporting drivers with warnings and suggestions (i.e. traffic and accident alert, distance alert from objects, warning of lane deviations, warning for driver sleepiness, etc.) using an intelligent decision support system and an intelligent driving control system that monitors, collects and manages information and communication for the driver.
- To make voyages more user-friendly and comfortable for drivers and passengers, using information about weather conditions and road traffic to give them the opportunity to vary their route as well as their destination.
The I-Way platform aimed to enhance driver's perception of the road environment and improve his responses in time-critical situations by providing real-time information from other vehicles in the vicinity and also from effectively located roadside equipment.
The main objective of I-Way was to exploit the technological know-how and scientific knowledge in order to integrate existing information sources and produce an interoperable tool set supporting both vehicle-to-infrastructure (v2i) and vehicle-to-vehicle (v2v) communication, providing greater transport efficiency and increasing safety.
The I-Way platform aimed to integrate several independent sub-systems that work together to provide the whole I-Way functionality. It is composed of the in-vehicle subsystem and the external transport system.
The project’s scientific objectives were:
- To research on the amalgamation of various sensors in an innovative way that will facilitate the proper acquisition of the required information, according to specific conditions.
- To develop innovative and efficient signal processing and image processing algorithms, able to extract relevant information regarding both the road and the driver status in order to assess the sensor’s recordings.
- To optimise a text-to-speech (TTS) module for use in car environment, in order to reinforce its intelligibility in noisy environments and to enable a natural and situation-dependent speech output. Furthermore, since the presence of noise in car environment remains a challenge, research was conducted in this field to improve robustness of Automated Speech Recognition (ASR) in noisy conditions.
- To provide a decision support system component for automated identification of an accident, potential hazards in the road environment and low driving skills due to drivers' fatigue or sleepiness which will produce actionable decisions in case of emergency.
- To create a sophisticated mechanism based on contextual awareness that will define the best way to give the information to the driver (sound, image, text) taking into account the workload, the different environment conditions and the traffic scenarios.
The main technical tasks in the project were as follows:
- User Requirements & System Functional Specifications
- Vehicle Sensors and Data Acquisition Module Development
- Development of the Situation Assessment Module
- Communication Aspects and Mobile Interfaces
- Set Up of Road Infrastructure
- Implementation of the Road Management System
- Integration, Testing & on Road Trials
- Dissemination & Exploitation
- Evaluation & Assessment.
The in-vehicle subsystem developed by I-Way consists of the following modules which are located in the interior of the vehicles:
- The vehicle sensing module. It is responsible for the acquisition, processing and analysis of raw data coming from the on-board sensors.
- The data acquisition module. It is responsible for the aggregation, combination and correlation of acquired information provided by the vehicle sensing module and by external sources.
- The mobile interfaces of the vehicle. Through vocal and graphic interfaces drivers input and receive significant information regarding accurate traffic jam estimations, weather conditions, the road shape, speed and distance from a vehicle travelling ahead etc.
- The situation assessment module. its purpose is to provide estimation of the road situation based on prior knowledge and incoming transient information.
- The communication module which handles the real-time exchange of data among the vehicles with each other and between a specific vehicle and the Road Management System.
The External Transport System which includes:
- The Roadside equipment which is responsible for data acquisition referring to the road environment in locations where vehicles cannot precisely recognise dangerous conditions.
- The Road Management System including an application and a database server which holds and manages the real-time road information.
The key feature that enhances I-Way innovation is that it refers to a cooperative system for road safety, where vehicles cooperate not only by receiving information from infrastructure but also by serving as scouts. I-Way's driving platform can ubiquitously monitor and recognise the road environment and the driver's state in real time using data obtained from three types of sources:
- The in vehicle sensing system
- The road infrastructure
- Other cars.