About Imara

Imara is a “horizontal” project within the much larger INRIA. Its objective is the coordination and the transfer of all the research done at INRIA which can be applied to the the various concepts that make up “la Route Automatisée”.

In particular, we will develop and transfer the results of a number of INRIA projects in to the following reaserch domains :

  • Signal processing (filtering, image processing,…)
  • Control of the vehicle (acceleration, braking, steering)
  • Communications
  • Modeling
  • Control and optimisation of transport systems

The goal of these studies is to improve road transportation in terms of safety, efficiency, comfort and also to minimize nuisances that come with day to day transportation.

Increase safety of road transportation Minimize energy consumption Minimize pollutions and nuisances Offer a more pleasant living environment Offer new transportation means available to more people

This project provides the different teams cooperating with us critical resources such as a fleet of a dozen of computer driven vehicles, various sensors and advanced computing facilities and simulation tools.

Industrial and International Relations

The IMARA project is part ot the consortium “La Route Automatisée.” A new laboratory (the LIVIC, Laboratory on the Interactions between Vehicle, Infrastructure and Conductor) has been set up in Versailles (close to INRIA) with test tracks for doing experiments in controlled and safe environments.

The project (and its partners in Lara) is strongly involved in the European project Carsense for the developement of on board sensors in road vehicles and we are in charge in particular, of vision algorithms and fusion with other sensors (radar, lidar).

The project is also deeply involved in the development of “CyberCars”, the urban vehicles of the (near) future which will have totally automated driving capabilities. A cooperation is underway with the major players in the field such as Frog Navigation Systems (NL), Robosoft (F) and Yamaha Europe (NL) to develop and test this new generation of vehicles.

INRIA will become a major test site for these transportation systems with an operational system in Rocquencourt.

Active collaboration is also under way with several of the bestpublic: research organizations in the field abroad : University of California at Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon University, Nayang Technical University (Singapor), Coimbra University (Portugal), Technion (Israel), Riken Institute (Japan),…


All of our scenarios are defined by answering the following questions : Where, whom, why, how, when ?

It is simple from these scenarios to see that many R&D tasks have much in common. Of particular interest to us on the technology side are the development of techniques for lane keeping, safe distance control, speed control and most of all (the hardest), obstacle avoidance.

scenario_a.jpg scenario_b.jpg scenario_c.jpg scenario_d.jpg
Scenario AScenario BScenario CScenario D
Whererural areas, small and medium size roads intercity freewaysperiurban freewaysdowntown areas (CBD, tourist centers, large intermodal areas)
Whomsecurity conscious drivers, elderly or young drivers. Private carscommercial vehicles (trucks, coaches)daily commuters (private cars and busses). Freight (vans)local residents, commuters, visitors, reduced mobility persons, freight
Whyincrease safety, increase mobilityincrease safety, reduce delays due to incidents (on-time delivery)increase safety, reduce and guarantee trip timereduce nuisances brought by private vehicles in cities (pollution, noise, usage of space)
Howassisted driving automatic :
speed limit,
lane keeping,
obstacle avoidance
assisted driving :
lane keeping,
obstacle avoidance,
Automated driving in platoons.
controlled-access lanes.
Assisted driving :
lane keeping,
obstacle avoidance and automatic stop and go.
Fully automated driving.
public individual vehicles or freight platforms with assisted or automatic driving :
lane keeping,
speed control,
obstacle avoidance,
automatic parking.
When10 to 15 years5 to 15 years depending on the technologies5 to 20 years depending on technologies and users (faster for public transport)2 to 8 years depending on the technologies

Each of these scenario is a potential user of some of the research work carried out by the consortium. Those scenarios are the evaluated to gain maximum benefits according to the following goals

Increase safety of road transportation

It is well known that road transport is not safe. This mode kills hundreds of thousands of people each year throughout the world and in particular young adults. Although safety has improved by one order of magnitude in the last decades through better infrastructure and safer cars, the limits of these improvements seems to have been reached if the travelling speeds remains constant (or are improved as is requested by the travellers). The techniques to improve drastically the safety are based on four approaches :

  • driver monitoring and warning
  • partial control of the vehicle in emergency situations
  • total control of some of the functions of the vehicle
  • total control of all the vehicle

Minimize energy consumption

Drastic reductions in the consumption of fossil fuels is one of the challenges of the next twenty years. Objectives have already been set for the reduction of carbon dioxide in many countries. Road transportation plays now the dominant role in the consumption of these fuels and the trend is towards great increases through two factors : increase in freight transport by road and very large increase in car ownership in emerging countries. Without a radical departure from existing technologies and practices, the goals set by the states cannot be met.

Minimize pollutions and nuisances

In all large cities through the world, air quality is now monitored at frequently unacceptable levels. Noise levels in cities and near highways is the main complain by a large percentage of the population. Citizen are not yet ready to change their habits on a voluntary basis but they are now supporting legislation to curb car usage in cities. Strong opposition is also expressed against highway corridors with large numbers of trucks, particularly in mountain areas. Besides air quality, one has also to mention soil pollution with large amounts of hydrocarbons going to the sewage system in big cities. New highway infrastructures, in particular in urban sites or in environmentally sensitive areas is also more and more difficult to justify and the opposition is growing rapidly in many countries, specially in western Europe.

The objective of the consortium is to study new transportation modes and in particular to find ways to develop multimodality in order to find the most energy efficient way of satisfying transportation needs. Another approach is to try to influence the needs in order to reduce them.

Offer a more pleasant living environment

Another nuisance often expressed by urbanites is the space taken by the automobile in cities. When the cities have been designed around the automobile (such as in modern suburbia), pedestrian life becomes impossible and every errand has to be performed with an automobile. This implies that mothers have to become taxi drivers and that adults with no access to an automobile must live in ghettos. This will certainly bring a major problem when the majority of these suburbanites (now mostly in their fifties with the baby boom), will reach an age when they cannot (or should not) drive In the old cities designed for pedestrian use, the automobile also has made life if not impossible, at least most unpleasant. In the absence of physical restraints, the automobile occupies all the space available and it becomes often difficult to pedestrians to move about (not to speak about cyclists). Fortunately, there is a recent trend towards “car-free cities” but often people (and shop owners are most concerned) complain that if they cannot move with their vehicle, they will not come. The technical solutions to these problems of environment which are studied by the consortium are all based on a better usage of the resources : space and energy. It is well known that mass transportation is most efficient in terms of space and energy but not very flexible and that the reverse is true for the private automobile. The solutions lies therefore in three directions :

  • make a better use of existing infrastructures by minimizing congestion and increasing throughput,
  • use a multi-modal approach with the automobile at its proper place when the public transportation cannot offer a good service,
  • develop new public transportation modes close to the service offered by the automobile.

Offer new transportation alternatives available to more people

Access to the automobile does not have to be exclusively through private ownership. This mode of access discourage strongly the use of alternative modes (such as public transportation or non-motorized modes) since the marginal cost of each trip is so low (unless penalized by parking cost or toll). New modes of access such as car-sharing, instant rental and self-service are now developed thanks to modern technologies. The consortium is strongly engaged in the development of such technologies with its participation in the Praxitele experiment.

However, new techniques of full driving automation have been proposed by the consortium as early as 1991 to offer an automated individual public transportation as flexible as the private automobile (at least in some areas) but with much less nuisances and less energy. This individual mode could be the missing link between mass transport and the private automobile. The Dutch company Frog Navigation Technologies has been the first in the world to offer such an automated road transport system with its ParkShuttle at the end of 1997. The consortium is now involved with this company to develop and experiment the technology further.

For more details on our research, please look at our bibliography and at our early results.

Early results

Our first research results where obtained in the context of the Praxitele project between 1993 and 1997. They concerned mainly the development of a car-sharing technologies such as simulation and optimization tools, navigation and communication technologies, and the development of an innovative vehicle for car-sharing with automatic driving capabilities : the CyCab.

One of the major accomplishments of the consortium was the development of a technique for platooning a number of cars with a single driver and no infrastructure. Each car is following at very close distance (time-gap of 0.3 sec. at any speed) and very accurately in lateral following the previous one through an innovative vision system. The first demonstration of this system was presented at the Prometheus demonstrations at the end of 1994.

Also at the same time, techniques for automated parallel parking were demonstrated. In 1997, we demonstrated techniques for teleoperation of vehicles with medium bandwidth digital communication. In 1998, we demonstrated a technique based on a linear camera and infrared flash for lateral lane keeping based on reflectors along the road.

wiki/old/public/about_imara.txt · Last modified: 2009/11/17 22:56 (external edit)
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