Car in a parking lot with light marking
A system for parking is just one example on deliveries from Q-free (Photo: Q-free)

Standards that meet the needs of the future

Q-Free is currently enjoying international success with its standardised products in the field of toll road systems. The next step involves standards for driverless cars, for example, with the intention of reducing the number of accidents on the roads, improving space utilisation and cutting emissions.

Before the development of standards, there were all kinds of toll road systems that simply could not function together. The EU and national authorities therefore decided that standards had to be developed in order to make it as easy as possible for motorists to use the roads. The EU also has the stated aim of halving the number of road traffic accidents by 2020. New technology is essential if this goal is to be achieved.

Standardisation pays dividends

The first generation technology in this field is known as ITS (Intelligent Transport Systems), and this is the technology used in toll road transponders. The Norwegian company Q-Free was involved in developing the standards for ITS, and Q‑Free products that comply with ITS standards are used in toll road systems all over the world, from Australia to Iceland.

“The standards are global and have helped Q-Free achieve worldwide commercial success. The products that are based on standards account for the majority of Q-Free’s revenue, and the company would not have existed in its current form without these standards. It takes a long time to develop standards, but in return they last for years and years,” explains Knut Evensen, head of standardisation work at Q-Free.

Just as relevant today

It is now more than 20 years since the standards for toll road systems were developed, but they remain just as relevant today.

“The standardisation groups that prepared the original standards are still going strong. We work hard to keep the standards up-to-date as the technology itself evolves,” adds Knut Evensen.

Older than the iPhone

Knut Evensen relates that it is over ten years since they started work on developing the next generation technology, i.e. the technology designed to meet the needs of the future.

“We started developing the standards for this technology before the iPhone hit the market. When it comes to the new technology, where Norway has played a key role in the standardisation process, it is no longer a question of viewing toll roads as a stand-alone service; rather, they comprise a platform that can be put to all kids of uses,” he says.

Improves traffic safety

The next generation technology, known as Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (C-ITS), is based on around 40 different standards. The main goals from the authorities are to develop services that improve traffic safety, protect the environment, and make traffic more efficient. The intention is to ensure that C-ITS functions as a seamless evolution of the current ITS solutions.

“The platform contains functions which can, for instance, warn drivers about dangerous situations such as slippery roads and landslides, as well as informing them of restrictions such as speed limits, and providing information about how close all nearby vehicles are and what they are doing. The overarching aim is to prevent traffic accidents, and the technology has been developed for use with driverless cars,” relates Knut Evensen.

Standardisation before innovation

Knut Evensen emphasises that the technology also supports commercial needs.

“In the future, we expect to see a lot of useful, innovative services that take C-ITS as their starting point. All standards that have become commercial successes have been based on testing in pilot projects. It is almost impossible to start by innovating first and then trying to standardise afterwards. The process should be standardisation, prototyping and then piloting,” he concludes.

(Published in June 2019)


Q-Free develops intelligent transport systems, including toll road systems, that are in use all over the world. The company works with communication and transaction technology and products designed to ensure the most smoothly functioning infrastructure for transport. Founded in 1984, the listed company originally stems from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and has its head office in Trondheim, Norway. Q-Free currently employs around 400 people in 16 countries, and is represented on all continents.

Knut Evensen

Knut Evensen

Last updated: 2021-06-29