Antwerp motorways hosting experiments with self-driving cars

The Antwerp Orbital Road and the E313 Motorway (Ranst section) will have lanes to test out self-driving cars. The lanes will be equipped with sensors to exchange information with the autonomous vehicles, which will be able to adapt their behaviour according to changing situations in traffic. This kind of system is believed to steer traffic flows a lot better, reducing traffic jams.

"Self-driving cars: it's no longer science fiction", says Bart Rooms of the VRT News Desk. "In the future, this will be a common thing on many European roads."

Sensors will be installed in the road surface and in light poles. These will make contact with software in the cars, triggering a rapid exchange of information (in billionths of a second i.e. nanoseconds). The cars will receive information of the place itself, but also about locations ahead. This enables the vehicle to anticipate and to react to rapidly changing situations.

This should wipe out at least one type of traffic congestion, the so-called accordion jams, where a first motorist drives too fast, has to break, causing another one to break/slow down, etc. creating a tailback. Apart from making traffic flows more efficient, it should also make traffic situations safer.

"Happy Flanders is among the frontrunners"

The pioneering project starts in June 2019 and runs until June 2020, in five European regions: in Lyon (France), between Nürnberg and München (Germany), Vigo (Spain), the Rotterdam and The Hague area (Netherlands) and Antwerp. 

The Flemish Innovation Minister Philippe Muyters is delighted Flanders is among the frontrunners. "Flanders is selling itself abroad as a logistic hub. Then you need to keep up mobility. Infrastructure works are one thing, innovative solutions like the Concorda project are another."

Universities and research centres are also taking part in the project. The Flemish research centre IMEC developed a chip for self-driving cars.