Intelligent Transport Systems: a major challenge for our Institute

With the upcoming ITS Strasbourg 2017 congress in sight, Trajectoire has chosen to devote this special issue to intelligent transport systems (ITS). Serge Piperno, IFSTTAR’s scientific director, reviews the main associated challenges and the Institute’s positioning in this area.

 A legacy of our past, our global and multi-disciplinary approach covering both vehicles and infrastructures is our strength in the field of ITSs

Making the transportation of people and goods safer, less time-consuming, less polluting and less costly. In a nutshell, that’s how we could encapsulate the main objective of intelligent transport systems. To achieve this, the idea is to help our transports fully embark into the digital era thanks to the new information and communications technologies. In practical terms this requires developing increasingly “sensitive“, not to say autonomous, vehicles and infrastructures, packed with sensors galore to analyse their environment, and capable of communicating between themselves in real-time.

Contributing to the expansion of ITSs is a major challenge for IFSTTAR, which boasts several assets in this area. First of all, our Institute has traditionally attracted strong competences both in the field of transport infrastructures as the heir to the Laboratoire central des ponts et chaussées (the central highway laboratory), but also in the field of road and rail vehicles and their respective usage as part of the former Inrets1. This gives us a global approach, but another pre-requisite to ensure the quality of research on ITSs is multi-disciplinarity. From this point of view, IFSTTAR is ideally staffed with experts in engineering sciences (mechanics, materials...), but also in human and social sciences to study the impact on usage and the behaviour of users faced with these new tools.

IFSTTAR is currently conducting many research projects in the field of ITSs: automated and communication-enabled cars and trains, new mobility services, improved modelling and optimisation of road and rail traffic, communication-enabled crossroads, intelligent traffic lights to regulate access to motorways, etc. We shall present several of these projects at the ITS Strasbourg 2017 congress. You may also discover some of the latter in this new issue of Trajectoire.

 1. National Institute for transport and safety research

For more information about IFSTTAR's researches and ITS, consult Trajectoire, special issue ITS - no 13, June 2017