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Sweden’s Government to Investigate the AV Readiness of its Roads

The Swedish Government has announced it will be assigning the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket) to assess to what extent the current national road network is suitable for AVs.

The assessment is to be based on a combination of current state-of-the-art as well as expected technological development within the AV business. The assignment also requests for Trafikverket to investigate which improvements will need to be in place, i.e. that road markings are designed and maintained to be machine readable or that information given through traffic signs is consistent. This will in turn require a strategy for maintenance of physical infrastructure as well as exploring possible technical alternatives to existing solutions.

The overall aim of the initiative is to ensure increased accessibility and safety for AVs and ADAS to meet budding business opportunities as well as contribute to the transformation of the transport sector. A report is expected by 29th of July 2022.

Personal Comment:

Since there isn’t a shared baseline for all the various self-driving technologies and approaches out there (and their relative levels of maturity), neither current or future, the administration will need to make some assumptions and generalisations to perform the evaluation. A possible outcome is therefore a model/forecast of the expected maturity of AVs on the national road network. And from the proposed maintenance process it should be possible to see when that maturity can be in place. The AV industry will then have a target to reach, or surpass, if they are to trial or deploy on the national roads. Thus, this investigation is not only looking to support innovation and development of self-driving technology but aimed at laying the groundwork for future commercial deployment.

Another interesting possibility could be the digitilisation of traffic signs and traffic lights (together with the possibility of over-the-air updates) as a way to potentially reduce the maintenance requirements of existing signage.

Personally, I also find it interesting that the technology that was supposed to ensure more cost efficient and safer transportation will be driving new costs in terms of infrastructure innovation and maintenance. How shall these investments in the public road system be shared across different stakeholders. Will it be through the tax system or road tariffs? Or will there be other means to cover the increased costs?

Written by Håkan Burden
RISE Mobility & Systems