To mark the first European conference on connected and automated driving, Horizon magazine investigates some of the hottest EU research topics in the field, from whether man or machine makes the decision in critical situations, to the potential for cyber criminals to create chaos on the roads, as well as revisiting some of our favourite articles about the future of transport.
Connected and automated cars could improve road safety, pollution levels and social inclusion, but only if implemented well – and now is the time to shape the course of events, EU research commissioner Carlos Moedas told a conference in Brussels.
Automated vehicles have the potential to revolutionise our day-to-day lives, but these kind of cyber-physical systems are vulnerable to attack by criminals. Horizon spoke with Dr Alexander Kröller, a research manager at Dutch navigation company TomTom, to explore the risks that hacking and viruses pose to self-driving cars.
If you take humans out of the driving seat, could traffic jams, accidents and high fuel bills become a thing of the past? As cars become more automated and connected, attention is turning to how to best choreograph the interaction between the tens or hundreds of automated vehicles that will one day share the same segment of Europe's road network.
The successful arrival in Rotterdam of six convoys of connected smart trucks from different points across Europe shows that cross-border truck platooning is feasible and operational challenges can be overcome, according to Steve Phillips, Secretary General of the Conference of European Directors of Roads (CEDR), which helped to organise the challenge.
Driverless cars may sound like something out of a sci-fi movie, but according to Dr Jean-Luc Di Paola-Galloni, co-chairman of the European Road Transport Advisory Council (ERTRAC), they could be on our roads in just four years’ time, and so the EU needs to regulate that.
Regenerative medicine takes a different approach to treating disease by aiming to regrow, repair or replace tissues and organs to restore their normal functions instead of just treating symptoms. This month, Horizon takes a deeper look at the promise of this emerging field and takes stock of where we are now. We look at how scientists are beginning human trials of a technique that repurposes cells from one part of the body to treat disorders in another, and find out how 3D printing is helping to tackle arthritis. We also look at the challenges of mass producing the raw materials for regenerative medicine - stem cells - and some of the regulatory and ethical issues that are emerging as the industry develops.
Every minute, satellites and sensors collect enormous amounts of data about the world around us – from temperature to pollution and forest cover to soil quality. This month, Horizon looks into the technologies behind Earth observation and how we can make best use of the vast amounts of information produced. We find out how measurements taken by people with smartphones on the ground can feed into local datasets and how the minituarisation of satellites is creating opportunities for start-ups to enter the Earth observation market. We also discover how measurements are being used to protect ecosystems and what historical data can tell us about extreme weather such as hurricanes and droughts.
Certain petrol and diesel engines designed to maximise fuel efficiency and cut carbon dioxide emissions may release harder-to-catch pollution associated with lung and heart diseases. In response, European researchers are analysing exhaust particles down to one billionth of a metre, which may help in the development of cleaner cars.
Scientists studying skin and breast cancer in genetically modified mice have spotted hybrid cancer cells that combine the properties of different cell types, a discovery that could help understand how cancer spreads in the body and provide a new target for treatment.
The European Commission has launched plans for the next research funding programme.