Brussels, 04 Apr 2003
To successfully develop the right kind of technologies for road safety, an integrated approach that takes into account the driver, the vehicle and the road infrastructure is needed, said Commissioner for Enterprise and Information Society, Erkki Liikanen, on 3 April.
Speaking at a congress of the German automotive industry association (VDA), Mr Liikanen noted that the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) is key to the Commission's eSafety initiative for developing competitiveness in European industry, and in particular the car manufacturing industry.
'To promote the development of the European automotive industry, we have to look at the specific factors that influence its competitiveness, one of these being the technologies for safety and environmental protection,' he said.
New technologies have already been used to develop appropriate sensors, actuators and processors. This has permitted the widespread implementation of some autonomous in-vehicle systems with safety benefits such as the airbag. Other systems like electronic stability programmes have helped drivers maintain control of the vehicle even when they exceeded its 'normal' limits of handling.
Today, 'the modern car has many times more computer power than the spacecraft that put the man on the moon. A typical passenger car of today is using a substantial number of sensors that generate information that is used by numerous processors to enhance the safety, comfort and environmental friendliness of the vehicle,' noted Mr Liikanen.
However, reducing the fatalities cannot be achieved solely by improvements to cars alone. 'Drivers also need to be better trained, and encouraged to comply with the rules of the road. In these respects, local and national road authorities will bear a large burden of responsibility,' argued the Commissioner.
Intelligent integrated road safety systems can however play a significant role in reducing the number of accidents, according to Mr Liikanen. 'These systems will take into account not just the driver and the vehicle, but also the environment around the vehicle. The systems will be cooperative, exchanging essential safety information between the vehicles, and with the infrastructure.'
Mr Liikanen pointed to the new funding opportunities for intelligent integrated safety under the Sixth Framework Programme and the new instrument of Integrated Projects (IP) as a means to achieving the critical mass of activities and resources needed in this field.
Finally, the Commissioner highlighted the work of the recently established eSafety forum, responsible for monitoring and promoting the deployment of such systems. So far, four groups have been established, dealing with e-Call, accident causation data, business models and human machine interface. Its first plenary meeting will take place on 22 April and it is expected that the group will help 'set the milestones for the broad deployment of new technologies.'