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Smart roads and self-driving vehicles: the future of transport

smart road

Smart roads and self-driving vehicles: the future of transport

Italy is also opening up the era of smart roads and self-driving vehicles. The Ministerial Decree authorising the testing of smart roads and unmanned vehicles was published in the Official Gazette on 28 February. A small revolution in the world of Italian transport, waiting for the market to become a group of self-guided vehicles.

Smart road: Italian intelligent roads

The project to transform the current road network into a smart road aims to introduce platforms for traffic monitoring and processing of data and information models, enabling infrastructure managers, public administrations and users to benefit from advanced services. Ultimately, the project that opens with the implementation of smart roads aims to create an ecosystem that integrates road infrastructure and new intelligent vehicles. This, from the perspective of the Decree, should ensure greater safety for road users and better management of vehicle flows.
In particular, the smart roads provided for by the Ministerial Decree are of two types. Type I smart roads are those belonging to the TEN-T network, i.e. Trans-European Network-Transport, and to the entire motorway network. On the contrary, type II smart roads are those that include SNIT level 1, i.e. the national integrated transport system.
The project, however, is wider in scope. By 2025, the TEN-T network and all motorways should be connected to the high bit-rate network (optical fibre), so that real-time communication can be established with vehicles, and therefore users, about traffic events or accidents. In particular, the project provides for the provision of wi-fi hotspots, at least initially, in the vicinity of parking areas and parking. By 2030, then, the services will be further expanded, with the possibility of receiving information on detours, suggestions of trajectory and lane, information on parking and refueling, especially with regard to the charging of electric cars and trucks. The services will gradually be extended to the roads belonging to SNIT.

Green light for self-guided vehicles

The Decree also provides for the possibility of conducting experiments on self-driven vehicles. In particular, these are all those vehicles equipped with technologies capable of implementing automatic driving behaviour, without the active intervention of the driver. Those interested in starting a test on a vehicle with automatic driving should make a request to the Ministry of Transport. After the investigation, the Ministry of Transport may authorise experimentation on specific stretches of road, in order to ensure high safety standards.