l3 pilot

L3Pilot: Autonomous driving and automotive collaboration

3Pilot claims to be Europe’s first experimental project for on-road self-driving cars.

Last week, the project’s four years of development were put to the test on the roads of Hamburg at the ITS Congress event.

The L3Pilot project is the result of collaboration extended across the entire automotive industry, from government authorities to car manufacturers and from research institutes to insurers, and is co-financed by the European Commission as part of the Horizon 2020 program.

The Volkswagen Group (VW), the BMW Group, Stellantis, Ford, Honda, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), Mercedes-Benz, Renault, Toyota and Volvo Cars are among the companies collaborating on this initiative.

L3Pilot, which started in September 2017 and cost around €68 million, enabled large-scale testing of intelligent vehicle systems at a pan-European level.

Between April 2019 and February 2021, fourteen partners carried out field tests.

A project developed thanks to international cooperation

Seven countries participated in these autonomous driving trials: Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

These were two cross-border initiatives, one involving Germany and Luxembourg and the other involving Germany, Belgium and the United Kingdom.

We believe these large-scale global projects involving many partners are essential to assure our customers that autonomous technologies are safe and reliable before we make them available to the market.

They are an essential part of our customer-centric, end-to-end software strategy,” said Yves Bonnefont, Head of Software at Stellantis.

Exhaustive tests carried out on open roads

L3Pilot focused on SAE Level 3 functions on the highway and in city traffic, while SAE Level 4 systems were studied in parking and proximity scenarios.

According to research, the primary benefit of SAE Level 3 systems is increased safety.

Furthermore, hands-free highway driving, as well as parking and city traffic functions, can provide social benefits that exceed the social costs of their implementation.

The initiative made it possible to equip 70 automobiles, including a test fleet of 13 different brands.

These vehicles have traveled more than 400,000 kilometers on the highway, including 200,000 kilometers in autonomous driving and the other half driven by a human, which made it possible to establish a basis for comparison.

In urban traffic, more than 22,000 kilometers were covered independently.

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During these rides, the focus was on user experience, with more than 1,000 users participating in test rides and virtual tests.

L3Pilot also conducted additional virtual testing with 600 users.

This provided insight into user experiences that, due to security and regulatory requirements, would have been more difficult to address in large-scale pilots.

autonomous car

Autonomous driving guidelines

One of the main achievements of the project was the creation of a Code of Practice for the Development of Automated Driving Functions (CoP-ADF).

Essentially, this code provides recommendations to assist in the design, development, verification and validation of automated driving technology.

Automated driving has enormous potential to improve transportation by making it safer, more efficient and more comfortable.

Despite the severity of the pandemic, L3Pilot partners have made remarkable efforts to continue piloting and achieve the project goals,” said Aria Etemad, L3Pilot coordinator at Volkswagen.

This demonstrates the exceptional dedication of our European network of partners.”

One of our main achievements is the development of a code of practice for the development of autonomous driving functions.

It establishes rules to help develop safe and reliable autonomous driving systems.’

All roads lead to Hamburg!

These tests led to the ITS Congress in Hamburg.

Participants were able to familiarize themselves directly with autonomous technologies, whether on the highway or in an urban environment.

A 15-20 minute highway journey could be made in a BMW X5, Honda Legend, Maserati Ghibli or Ford Focus.

In this case, the demo cars follow the lanes and change their speed depending on many parameters such as legal limits and other vehicles.

In safe situations, they could also perform automatic overtaking.

Participants in the urban demonstrations were treated to a five- to seven-minute ride around the TAVF test track in a VW eGolf or Passat.

These cars operated in conditional autonomy, supporting all dynamic driving functions.

Both experiments used safety drivers in case the vehicles required human handling.

As mobility exhibitions, such as the ITS Congress, find their feet in a world still reeling from the pandemic, demonstrations of this type are an attractive novelty.

They give participants a glimpse into a complex world of personal development and potential.

However, as captivating as these shows are, they should not overshadow the major successes of programs such as L3pilot.

The CoP-ADF has the potential to be the cornerstone of future autonomous systems, providing the foundations for what could one day be the car of the future, rather than just a mobility demonstration car.