Although SAFESTRIP project has recently come to an end, the innovative technology developed throughout the project has revealed to be very promising in the field of road safety. In this interview, Dr. Angelos Bekiaris from CERTH discusses the legacy of SAFESTRIP.
Dr. Bekiaris, what was CERTH’s role in SAFESTRIP? How is CERTH working to make roads safer?
“In SAFESTRIP we were the technical coordinators, supporting the scientific and technical part of the project. As for CERTH, the centre performs research in transport, with one of our five divisions being specialised in transport safety. Here we develop new safety-related tools, methodologies and projects. However, we also develop and test policies. When there are transport-related issues, we provide consultation to the Greek Ministry of Transport. For instance, we are now providing consultation on a new draft law for micro and urban mobility, including the specifications under which all micro-mobility means can safely circulate on roads. “
What is the added value of having research centres such as CERTH involved in European projects?
“The advantage is that you can develop and co-create solutions and products with the top institutes, associations and industries in Europe. In a small country, such as Greece, it is difficult to find all the know-how and the collaborations needed to first develop and then to exploit solutions. European projects allow us to find a wider spectrum of knowledge and exploitation opportunities. It is important to have access to knowledge, thanks to which we can then support our own industry and consult our Government and national businesses. If this didn’t happen, we would have to import this knowledge.”
In your opinion, why are European projects important to drive innovation?
“In addition to what I mentioned earlier, I would say they are needed for an efficient Europewide exploitation. We need to have different environmental conditions, from the North of Europe where you have snow and ice, to the South, with warmer weather. Also different road qualities are important to consider. You need to have the different players for the pilot tests and marketing, but also consider all the different variables.”
During SAFESTRIP’s final event you commented: “In my career I have worked in more than 120 European projects, 40 of which as Coordinator. SAFESTRIP is one of the five best and more important ones. This is because SAFESTRIP is not just another project with another research result: it is a game changer.”. How is SAFESTRIP a game changer?
“We are speaking about a system that may change the C-ITS implementation, because today’s biggest limit to implementation is the time and the cost. So having a system with a much enhanced functionality, that is cheaper to install, as well as being able to communicate to older and newer equipped cars is a totally new system of applications that can accelerate the implementation and the adoption of C-ITS in Europe. Therefore, I believe that if this technology matures and is exploited properly it can have a very big impact on the market.”
In your opinion and expertise, do you think the transport world needs a SAFESTRIP 2.0 project?
“We believe that it is needed, because when you have such a development, you need another project to continue it. We already have a national follow-up project in Greece, but we do need to test these technologies on a bigger scale. We think that SAFESTRIP could and should continue with wider applications at a higher TLR level.”