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New joint report outlines EU and US cooperation on connected vehicle standards

The United States and the European Union (EU) have been working together under a 2009 implementation agreement to develop coordinated research programs to foster international connected vehicle technology and international harmonization of the technology and standards necessary for broad deployment of connected vehicle systems.

To highlight the progress of this bilateral effort, the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) and the European Commission Directorate General for Communication Networks, Content and Technology (CONNECT) have now published the report “International Deployment of Cooperative Intelligent Transportation Systems: Bilateral Efforts of the European Commission and United States Department of Transportation.” The report describes joint accomplishments and future plans in the areas of connected vehicle safety, standards harmonization, sustainability applications, assessment tools, and driver distraction and human-machine interaction (HMI).

An EU-US Steering Group, Technical Task Force, and Working Groups, co-led and staffed by representatives of RITA (DOT’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration), CONNECT, and appointed industry experts, are conducting the work for the EU and US bilateral activities. Representatives from the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transportation and Tourism (MLIT) participate in these groups as official observers.

The current Working Groups include:

  • The Safety Applications Working Group supports the development and deployment of cooperative safety applications in Europe and the United States by collaborating on and, to the extent possible, harmonizing over-the-air data and communication interfaces. The results can then feed into the ongoing industry standards processes in which these representatives participate. This approach will reduce costs for the development of cooperative safety systems and accelerate deployment by enabling the use of common vehicle hardware and firmware in both regions.

  • The Sustainability Applications Working Group identifies, researches, quantifies, and evaluates the environmental benefits of an intelligent transportation system (ITS) application or scenario that would improve the operation and performance of an environmentally optimized transportation network. The Working Group’s specific activity goals are to define and develop an operational concept for an environmental signal phase and timing (SPaT) application and to focus on the development of joint standards for a possible “environmental message set” to support this application.

    Four SPaT applications have been proposed for joint research: Smart Start/Stop Assistant to optimize the automatic start/stop assistant in vehicles in a transparent way to the driver; Energy-Efficient Intersection Control, intended to reduce the number of stops at controlled intersections and to avoid unnecessary acceleration and deceleration; Traffic Information and Strategic Routing to allow reduced congestion and travel times, optimize the network load, and aligns individual route guidance and navigation to infrastructure systems to avoid conflicting driver information; and Eco-Driving Support to assist a driver with information to make better decisions about driving behavior and/or vehicle operation in support of environmental goals (whether personal or system-wide).

  • The Standards Harmonization Working Group fosters the development and adoption of globally harmonized standards for cooperative ITS. The EU and U.S. agree that harmonized ITS standards can result in faster realization of the cost-effective safety, mobility, and sustainability benefits afforded by the worldwide deployment of interoperable ITS.

    In addition to accelerating the societal benefits of ITS, standards harmonization will increase innovation and competition among ITS equipment manufacturers and service providers, reduce development and deployment costs for ITS stakeholders and consumers, and promote a vibrant international market for ITS products and services. The Standards Harmonization Working Group is coordinating with standards development organizations (SDOs) to ensure timely realization of these benefits while avoiding the development and adoption of redundant standards and efficiently using the collective expertise available in both regions.

  • The Assessment Tools Working Group establishes a common level of analysis capabilities, common field operational test (FOT) methodology and design practices, and shared data formats and parameters for testing and evaluation of cooperative systems. The Working Group focuses on safety, sustainability, and mobility applications and coordinates these with the Safety and Sustainability Applications Working.

  • The Driver Distraction and Human-Machine Interaction (HMI) Working Group identifies opportunities for research collaboration, aligns research, and identifies differences in the areas of driver distraction and HMI. The Working Group was created in response to the importance of driver distraction in the political discussion of road safety in both regions.

  • The Glossary Working Group establishes and publishes the common working definitions for key terms and concepts to facilitate mutual understanding in ongoing discussions within the EU-US Task Force. Task Force members choose and vet the content.

According to the report, the working groups have made good progress, and have developed a substantially harmonized core safety message set. The revised planned contents of the EU Cooperative Awareness Message (CAM) have been harmonized with the contents of the currently adopted US Basic Safety Message (BSM). While the messages are not identical, they are now sufficiently harmonized to require simple software reconfiguration for systems to use both messages.

This will enable the use of common hardware and substantially common software for products destined for both regions, reducing both cost and complexity to manufacturers and, ultimately, to consumers.

Going forward, the bilateral efforts will continue to focus on international standards harmonization as a key outcome. In addition, the Safety and Sustainability Applications Working Groups will identify critical technical issues, and the Driver Distraction and HMI Working Group will continue to gain knowledge in safe HMI design.

The USDOT and CONNECT are also hosting a showcase to share this joint work with the global intelligent transportation system (ITS) community at the ITS World Congress in Vienna on 22-26 October.

The showcase provides a live demonstration of how a system of connected vehicles might work—using US and European cars that exchange similar wireless safety messages that can be understood by the hardware platforms on both vehicles. US and European researchers have been working to develop a basic safety message that can be understood by devices available in US and European vehicles with only minor modifications.


  • International Deployment of Cooperative Intelligent Transportation Systems—Bilateral Efforts of the European Commission and United States (October 2012) Publication #FHWA-JPO-12-081


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