Antwerp to become Belgium hub for autonomous vehicle testing

28 June 2017

28 June 2017

From early 2019, a section of the Antwerp ring road will be fitted with sensors so it can be used for a €3.4 million trial for self-driving cars. The roads will not be closed to normal traffic.

It will become one of several hubs across Europe for the testing of the benefits of autonomous driving on busy roads. Others include Lyon in France, Vigo in Spain, the Rotterdam-Hague conurbation in the Netherlands and the Nurnberg to Munich motorway in southern Germany.

The ring road section will be between Borgerhout and Deurne, also including the junction at Ranst, and testing will last until June 2020.

The trials will be aimed at reducing traffic jams and accidents at what are usually very busy junctions in Belgium.

Mobility minister for Belgium’s northern Flemish region Philippe Muyters said: ′For regular motorists, nothing will change. They will be able to use these roads as before. The autonomous vehicles will not be driving on their own; each vehicle will be equipped with a driver to intervene if necessary.’

All these European hubs have been jointly financed by the public and private sectors, together budgeted at €20 million.

Meanwhile, the 2,500 public electric vehicle (EV) charging stations that will be installed by 2020 by the government of Flanders will be powered by sustainable energy provided by Eoly, a subsidiary of Belgian retail group Colruyt.

Colruyt’s Eoly generates its green energy locally via wind turbines, solar panels and cogeneration (generating electricity and useful heat at the same time).

Flanders’ EV charging stations are being installed by ALEGrO, a project high-voltage electricity monopoly Elia Group.

The Flemish government mandates that every commune in the region (of which there are 308) should have at least one EV charging station, and the first was installed in May. The government aims that by the end of the year, there will be around 650 operational EV charging stations in the region.

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