Where do we come from? This existential question can be answered relatively easily for the LENS project by looking at the previous Horizon 2020 project CARES, short for City Air Remote Emission Sensing. The project, which ran from 2019 to 2023, developed and explored various techniques for contactless and non-intrusive measurements of the emission performance of individual road vehicles in real-world operation.

CARES successfully utilised the ‘point sampling’ remote emission sensing technique, which was further developed to accurately measure particulate matter components such as Black Carbon (BC), i.e., soot particles, and particle number (PN). CARES focussed on measuring emissions from passenger cars and heavy trucks and to detect vehicles having excess emissions due to e.g., deliberate tampering with the vehicle’s emission control technology system.

Measurements schemes were done in Krakow (PL), Milano (IT) and Prague (CZ) and concluded that EU emission legislation with regard to NOX emissions from light-duty diesel vehicles up until Euro 6 failed. Whereas Real-Driving Emissions (RDE) introduced with ‘Euro 6D’ and these related measurement techniques were successful. Thus, LENS further refines RDE measurements to measure the real-world emissions from individual L-category vehicles from the roadside. An example of various measurement techniques of CARES are illustrated below:

CARES measuring results underlines existing criticism against emission control systems

Another important observation from the CARES city demonstration measurements was that tampering of the emission control system appears to be quite common on Euro V and even on Euro VI heavy-duty diesel trucks by illegally installing so-called Adblue® emulators, increasing the vehicles’ NOX emissions by one order of magnitude. This was revealed in roadside inspections triggered by the remote emission sensing measurements.