CITRUS pilot project gives a taste of smart mobility of the future
Big data, digitisation and technology can help optimise freight transport and improve safety, traffic flow and emissions. That is the conclusion of CITRUS (Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems for Trucks), the first Flemish pilot project which tested how vehicles and traffic lights can communicate in two directions. "CITRUS shows that innovative technology will play an important role in making our traffic and transport more sustainable and safer," says Flemish Minister Lydia Peeters. "Projects such as CITRUS prepare Flanders for the mobility of the mobility of the future, even if we still have several steps to take."
Real time traffic information via an app
How can we prevent rear-end collisions in tailgating situations? And how can we ensure a smoother flow of transport at intersections with traffic lights? In short, these are the questions that the CITRUS project (Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems for Trucks) has been working on in recent years. Smartphones are everywhere and transmit a lot of signals. Why not use those signals to make our transport safer and more sustainable?
In the CITRUS project, 100 professional drivers received 4 months of real-time traffic information via a companion app: information about congestion on the planned route, road works but also advice on speed and route selection. The information used to feed these alerts is a combination of anonymised user data (such as smartphone data) and roadside data recorded by traffic lights, detection loops, road works databases, signalling vehicles, etc....”,
Smooth and safe through traffic, and good for the environment
What is the main conclusion of CITRUS? The app does what it promises to do: guide professional drivers (trucks, buses and intervention vehicles such as the fire brigade) safely and smoothly through traffic. By warning for ‘tailbacks’: places where the traffic jams start and traffic comes to a standstill with a risk of rear-end collisions. But also by ensuring a smooth flow at intersections with traffic lights, which is positive for the environment.
Steven Logghe Chief Traffic at Be-Mobile indicates: “We are pleased that this project shows that a companion app offers added value on different levels such as safety and ecology. We are looking at how we, together with the partners, can increase the scope and impact by linking even more data. Investments in smart and connected infrastructure are crucial for this.”
Sven Maerivoet Senior Researcher at Transport & Mobility Leuven adds: “CITRUS shows that technology can increase alertness when approaching a tailback, even though the average speed of the truck driver does not decrease. The intelligent traffic lights show a substantial improvement in traffic flow, especially when the cycle is adapted to the oncoming traffic.”
Towards an integrated app
“The test with the delivered Companion App showed that it indeed helps drivers, but that an app with just one functionality is not really user-friendly enough”, says Regine Vaneghem, responsible for Transport at Colruyt Group: “In addition, we noted that the availability of accurate data, which does not stop at municipal or regional boundaries, is essential for the applicability of such applications. Therefore, there is a need for an integrated application based on route guidance for heavy goods transport, but supplemented with traffic reports, road works reports, traffic lights and, on top of that, smart communication with other road infrastructure.”
Intelligent traffic lights
The intelligent control of traffic lights based on real-time traffic information (the green wave principle) was extensively tested during the CITRUS project and showed that communication with the traffic lights does support the driver. To this end, the traffic lights on the N203a in Halle (connection between R0 and E429) were equipped with technology that enables them to communicate with trucks. In this way the truck drivers were given information about the position of the traffic lights and the time until the next colour. In addition, drivers were also given speed advice so that they do not have to stop unnecessarily, which reduces harmful emissions.
Regine Vaneghem: “We’ve only tested this at three traffic lights. We hope to do this on a larger scale in the future. Ideally, we would also add communication with other traffic infrastructure. And subsequently implement them in our standard processes. That could lead to interesting progress in the long term.”
Fruitful cooperation between public and private
For this project, the Flemish government and Belgian private companies joined forces. Be-Mobile (smart mobility specialist) and the Flemish Government (the Department of Mobility and Public Works and the Agency for Roads and Traffic) worked together to collect (traffic) data in order to put it to efficient use. The study bureau Transport & Mobility Leuven (TML) provided support for the monitoring and evaluation of this pilot project. Colruyt Group, the Port of Zeebrugge and Antwerp Port Authority tested the applications. The CITRUS project was realised with European support from the Connecting Europe Facility.
Minister Lydia Peeters: ‘Smart infrastructure and vehicles and quality data’
Lydia Peeters, Flemish Minister of Mobility and Public Works concludes: “CITRUS shows that technology offers many possibilities. In addition, I am pleased that this project shows that public-private partnerships can offer advantages. CITRUS shows that technology will play an important role in making our traffic and transport more sustainable and safer. The Flemish government is committed to innovative solutions to make traffic smoother, more sustainable and safer for every road user. For the Flemish mobility vision 2040, a citizen’s survey is currently ongoing. This long-term strategic vision should help Flanders to make the right policy choices in the coming years. In this way, we want to prepare Flanders for the mobility of the future in which technology, digitisation and automation will play an important role. We want to make our infrastructure and our vehicles and vessels smarter and more innovative and focus on quality mobility data. My administration will now examine, together with the project partners, what the options are for a wider roll-out of the services developed for the CITRUS project.”
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About Colruyt Group Colruyt Group operates in the food and non-food distribution sector in Belgium, France and Luxembourg with approximately 600 own stores and 580 affiliated stores. In Belgium, this includes Colruyt, OKay, Bio-Planet, Cru, Dreamland, Dreambaby, Fiets! and the affiliated stores Spar and Spar Compact. In France, in addition to Colruyt stores, there are also affiliated Coccinelle, Coccimarket and Panier Sympa stores. The group is also actively involved in the foodservice business (supply of food products to hospitals, company canteens and catering businesses) in Belgium (Solucious). The other activities comprise the sale of fuel in Belgium (DATS 24), printing and document management solutions (Symeta) and the production of green energy (Eoly). The group employs over 30.000 employees and recorded a EUR 9,5 billion revenue in 2019/20. Colruyt is listed on Euronext Brussels (COLR) under ISIN code BE0974256852.