Program for a European traffic system with highest efficiency and unprecedented safety

Eureka Project, Project Manager: Andras Kemeny

Partners – Renault, BMW, Daimler…

Duration: 8 years, end of project: February 31st, 1995


PROMETHEUS was started in 1986 and was initiated as part of the EUREKA program, a pan-European initiative aimed at improving the competitive strength of Europe by stimulating development in such areas as information technology, telecommunications, robotics, and transport technology. The project is led by 18 European automobile companies, state authorities, and over 40 research institutions. The budget for the project is over $800 million and the project is scheduled to last 7 years. PROMETHEUS is a pre-competitive research
project, with the output being a common technological platform to be used by the participating companies once the product development phase begins. The overall goals of PROMETHEUS fall into four categories:
  • Improved driver information – providing the driver with information from new sources of technology that were not previously available. Currently, the lack of information or the inability to assess a hazard is often the primary cause of accidents
  • Active driver support – when the driver fails in some way at the driving task, the system may aid the driver in an informative way or by active intervention.
  • Cooperative driving – establishing a network of communication between vehicles in order to provide drivers with relevant information for areas en route to their destination.
  • Traffic and fleet management – systems for the efficient use of the road network, ranging from highway flow control to fleet operations.
The emphasis of PROMETHEUS, however, is on systems having a large in-vehicle component to their design. The ultimate aim is for every vehicle to have an on-board computer to monitor vehicle operation, provide the driver with information, and assist with the actual driving task. A centralized communications network will also be a component of the system in order to provide two-way communication between each vehicle and a control center.
Within the PROMETHEUS program, there are seven subprograms; three are carried out by the motor industry, and four are carried out by the research community.
The industry subprograms cover the following:
  • In-vehicle systems for vehicle monitoring and driver assistance
  • Vehicle-to-vehicle communications network
  • Road-vehicle communications for traffic control

The research subprograms cover the following:

  • Development of required microelectronic components, including sensors and on-board computer systems by the PRO-CHIP researchers
  • Use of artificial intelligence in the vehicular system and software development by the PRO-ART research group
  • Communication within the system vehicle and driver, vehicle and vehicle, plus vehicle communications to the overall road network by the PRO-COM group
  • Vehicle change effects on the traffic environment will be studied by traffic engineers in the PRO-GEN group

The research phase, covering the past 4 years, has largely been completed. The current move is toward the definition phase, where the emphasis has shifted to field tests and demonstrations. Ten common European demonstrations have been identified to evaluate systems in each of the following areas:

  • Vision enhencement
  • Emergency systems
  • Proper vehicle operation
  • Commercial fleet management
  • Collision avoidance
  • Test sites for traffic management
  • Cooperative driving
  • Dual-mode route guidance
  • Autonomous intelligent systems
  • Travel information systems
  • Travel information systems
  • Cruise Control
These demonstrations are scheduled to be completed by 1994; however, it is likely that PROMETHEUS will continue beyond that date. The second phase will be somewhat modified to reflect the near-market status of products under development, and will move away from the program’s non-competitive origins.
In order to bring products to market more quickly in Europe, European Road Transport Telematics Implementation Coordination Organization (ERTICO) was created in November 1991. Its objectives are to pool the information from the many individual projects and identify strategies in order to exploit the results of DRIVE, PROMETHEUS, and other individual programs. ERTICO’s goal is to create a climate for market-driven investment in order to ensure European dominance in advanced-vehicle technologies.