Interview with Núria Cayuela: a close look at the HEADSTART project.


    Núria Cayuela is a Junior R&D Engineer and she has been part of the team responsible for analysing the regulatory framework within the HEADSTART project (among others). Núria started at Applus+ through a university internship, and on completion, she joined the company as a R&D Project Engineer in the Homologations Department. Her main role in the company is to manage and develop innovation projects.







    Tell us about your work at Applus+

    In 2020, I joined the IDIADA Division on a university internship, which I completed in the Commercial Vehicle Homologations Department, specifically in the R&D team of this department. After finishing the internship and the final project of my master’s degree, I joined the same team and department as an R&D Project Engineer. My main function at the Division is to manage and develop innovation projects. Most of the projects we work on are being developed for the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 framework. Nowadays, the  majority of these projects are concluding or have already finished in the past months. Some examples of the projects I have worked with are HEADSTART, AEROFLEX, ENSEMBLE and ARCADE, among others.

    Tell us about the HEADSTART project

    HEADSTART stands for “Harmonised European Solutions for Testing Automated Road Transport”. As the name suggests, the project aimed to address one of the technological challenges that the automotive industry is facing today: Connected and Automated Driving (CAD). In fact, the HEADSTART project arose precisely from one of the main challenges that these technologies present: the validation and testing of their functions so that CAD technologies can be considered safe for the different scenarios occurring when driving on roads.

    What were the objectives of the project?

    The main objective of HEADSTART was to provide comprehensive testing and validation tools and procedures to evaluate the performance of CAD vehicles equipped with any technology and function. To achieve this, five objectives were defined:

    1. Identify existing methodologies, procedures and tools for validation, testing and certification.
    2. Harmonise the different existing approaches to testing and validation.
    3. Define and develop testing, validation and certification methodologies and procedures for CAD functions.
    4. Demonstrate the methodologies, procedures and tools developed by validating different use-cases for CAD.
    5. Reach consensus by creating and managing a network of CAD testing experts to promote the adoption of the project’s results, taking into account the needs of multiple stakeholders.

    Who participated in this project?

    Seventeen companies from the automotive industry sector have participated in this project, including the IDIADA Division, responsible for the coordination and management of the project through the Electronics, Homologations and Project Management departments. In addition, the IDIADA Division contributed to defining the test methodology and its validation.

    What was the function of the department in this project and what was your role?

    The main function of the Homologations Department was to define under which regulatory framework the technological innovations being developed fell, to identify and analyse the gaps at the regulatory level that related to these innovations, and to propose recommendations that would allow the introduction of these new concepts and technologies. Therefore, my role has been to perform a continuous analysis of the innovations being developed and to collaborate with the approval engineers, who are experts in the different regulations (such as the ALKS regulation) and thematic areas, in order to provide support and recommendations at legislative level for the development of the CAD vehicle’s testing and validation methodology.

    What is the significance of this project for Applus+?

    Participating in this type of project allows the IDIADA Division to be permanently prepared to develop our mission as an approval technical service at the highest technical and service level. This position allows our teams to identify and cover the future requirements for approval or certification (mobility services, products related to automated driving, etc.).

    Particularly, the HEADSTART project has allowed us to be prepared for homologations coming within the new technological areas of connected and automated driving, which, in this case, will require new technical competencies on cybersecurity (with audit assessments), software updates, and Level 3 and higher levels of automation, among others.

    Consequently, by ensuring an early understanding of potential changes coming from the homologation and market surveillance authorities throughout the homologation process, this pioneering involvement allows us to set the right strategy for the future.

    Considering that society increasingly demands connected vehicles, and that autonomous driving is the future of the automotive sector, how did you manage this, and what other research and development projects are you working on?

    The industry is evolving rapidly and what was valid yesterday at a regulatory level may no longer be valid today because new technologies, new trends and new mobility solutions are constantly emerging. Therefore, it is important for a department like ours to adapt to this frenetic pace, and this can only be achieved if it goes hand-in-hand with these innovations from their earliest stages of concept and development. To this end, within the Commercial Vehicle Homologations Department, we do not only participate in innovation projects, but also actively participate in vehicle regulatory forums. Some of the European projects we are actively working on today related to autonomous driving are ARCADE, ENSEMBLE and SHOW. Last but not least, I would like to add that we have already presented proposals for upcoming projects within the Horizon Europe innovation framework which will be developed by the Division in the coming years. One of these proposals is the continuation of the HEADSTART project, which reconfirms what is already known by everyone: that the future mobility is connected and automated.


    By Núria Cayuela

    Applus+ uses first-party and third-party cookies for analytical purposes and to show you personalized advertising based on a profile drawn up based on your browsing habits (eg. visited websites). You can accept all cookies by pressing the "Accept" button or configure or reject their use.. Consult our Cookies Policy for more information.

    Cookie settings panel