Autonomous vehicles on the Antwerp ring road in 2019

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The Antwerp ring road will become a hub for testing autonomous vehicles from early 2019 until June 2020. 3.4 million euros are being invested into the Belgian part of this European test project.

In total, Europe is investing 20 million euros in Antwerp and 4 other cities: Lyon in France, the Nurnberg to Munich motorway in Germany, Vigo in Spain and the Rotterdam-The Hague conurbation in the Netherlands.

Cars to be tested in the Belgian city of Antwerp

From this year on, sensors will be gradually installed on several lanes of the ring and E313 motorway. Once operational, these sensors will send traffic data to the vehicles, allowing them to adjust to the flow automatically and avoid braking haphazardly.

The Flemish nano-electronic research centre IMEC is also taking part in the experiment. IMEC designed a chip with deep-learning capabilities. It can react to unexpected situations, such as a child suddenly crossing the road. Ford and Toyota are also involved in this project.

Less traffic jams

The self-driving vehicles will run alongside normal traffic. One of the benefits the experiment is hoping to show is a decrease in traffic jams because motorists will follow the example shown by the autonomous vehicles, which in turn will improve traffic flow and reduce accidents.

Clearly identifiable cars

“For regular motorists, nothing will change,” said Philippe Muyters, Innovation Minister for the Flemish region to Belga. “They will be able to use these roads as before. The autonomous vehicles will not be driving on their own.” The autonomous cars will be clearly identifiable, according to Muyters, and always have a driver on board to intervene if necessary.

The ultimate objective is to ensure that the autonomous vehicles operate in a completely independent and safe manner.