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Networked on the highway

Source: BMVI

The Federal Government’s objective is to unlock the potential inherent in digital mobility. Therefore, the Federal Government promotes innovative technologies such as automated and connected driving. These will make it possible to enhance road safety and traffic efficiency and to reduce emissions.

The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure supports the development of digital test beds in the public realm, which provide industry and the research community with an opportunity to gain experience in real world driving and in driving situations of varying degrees of complexity. The lessons learned from the test beds are to provide policymakers with answers to a number of fundamental questions to enable them to take the correct transport policy decisions. Digital test beds are “laboratories with real-life conditions”, on motorways, in urban and rural environments and in a cross-border context. In particular, the test beds in urban and rural areas are to enable people to experience the new technologies in real-life situations.

Responsibility for the conduct of the trials in the public street environment lies with the users. In general, automated driving functions can be trialled anywhere in Germany. Rules governing these trials are set out in the road traffic law provisions, in particular in the German Road Vehicles Registration and Licensing Regulations (Straßenverkehrs-Zulassungs-Ordnung, StVZO). It is up to the competent federal state authorities to implement these road traffic law provisions, which apply throughout Germany (for example the issuance of authorizations). Because of the law applicable in Germany, trials of vehicles with automated driving systems in the public street environment are in practice carried out with a driver on board who is ready to intervene at any time. The vehicle systems must be designed in a way that they can be overridden or switched off by a driver.

Digital Motorway Test Bed

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On the A 9 federal motorway in Bavaria, which is one of the busiest motorways in the whole of Germany, a Digital Motorway Test Bed has been established. The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure operates the Digital Motorway Test Bed in collaboration with the Free State of Bavaria. The German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) and the Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media (Bitkom) support the project.

The unique roadside furniture of the Digital Motorway Test Bed provides automotive and component supply industries, telecommunications companies and research institutions with an innovative test area for forward-looking systems and technologies such as automated and connected driving. Among other things, seamless high-speed LTE communications coverage is available on the Test Bed, so that network evolutions towards an efficient 5G mobile network can be trialled as well. Moreover, mobility data can be prepared in a standardized format and made available to all users of the test bed via the MDM (Mobility Data Marketplace). Special road furniture such as safety barriers with reflectors and special signs, which are used to trial different sensor models (radar, laser, Lidar, cameras etc.), supports the vehicles in adjusting to their environment.

Furthermore, on the Digital Motorway Test Bed, innovative approaches to intelligent road infrastructure are tested and conclusions for developing appropriate and forward-looking road infrastructure are drawn. Completely new possibilities will be opened up by new sensors, linked together to form an intelligent system, such as the intelligent bridge, where a network of sensors continuously records and analyses information on the condition of the structure, the telematics systems to warn of wrong-way drivers, which automatically and reliably identify wrong-way drivers at three selected motorway junctions and directly alert such drivers, or the telematics-based HGV parking guidance and information system. Furthermore, with the “service station and rest area of the future”, a comprehensive and forward-looking concept for rest areas is being trialled which places special importance on a sustainable management of energy resources.

By combining a modern road infrastructure and the provision of state-of-the-art transmission technologies, the Digital Motorway Test Bed is a test environment that provides the automotive industry, component suppliers, telecommunications companies and research establishments with a unique opportunity.

Automated driving ... What’s it all about?

Digital Test Beds in cities

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Given the rapid pace of technological development and increasingly fierce international competition, it is imperative that the next steps be taken to expedite the development of automated and connected driving in rural and urban areas. In real-world driving, lessons are to be learned regarding complex driving situations, e.g. at traffic lights, intersections and in interaction with non-motorized road users, in order to future-proof the interplay of motorway, rural and urban traffic.

The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure is providing funding to projects on a variety of digital test beds in urban and rural areas, the principal ones being in Berlin, Braunschweig, Dresden, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Ingolstadt and Munich. Innovative and application-related projects receive financial assistance under the Research Programme on Automation and Connectivity in Road Transport.

Franco-German-Luxembourg Digital Test Bed

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The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure is also funding the cross-border trialling of technologies for automated and connected driving. Within the framework of the Franco-German Initiative on Electric and Digital Mobility, which was launched in September 2016, agreement was reached in February 2017 on the establishment of a cross-border Franco-German Digital Test Bed and thus the creation of a European lighthouse project at the heart of Europe. In September 2017, Luxembourg joined the Test Bed. The objective of the Test Bed is to promote the development and trialling of technologies for automated and connected driving in combination with intelligent transport systems and under real-life conditions. This reaffirms the joint commitment to a sustainable, efficient European transport policy that is fit for the future. The trilateral test bed will run from Merzig via Saarlouis and Saarbrücken to the French city of Metz and thence to Luxembourg.

Trials on the test bed are subject to country-specific traffic law provisions. Apart from the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, the Saarland, the city of Merzig and the Saarland University of Applied Sciences act as partners on the German side.

Contact points

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If you have general questions regarding the test beds or if you are interested in using them, you can contact the Communication and Coordination Platform for Automated Driving (KOAF) at the following e-mail address: koaf[at]bmvi.bund.de or by telephone: +49 (0)30 18-300-6247/-6248.

Enquiries regarding intelligent infrastructure on the A9 Digital Test Bed can be sent to the “Road Transport Telematics; Rest Areas” division of the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure at Ref-StB12[at]bmvi.bund.de.

FURTHER INFORMATION

  • Declaration on the Franco-German-Luxembourg Digital Test Bed
  • Luxembourg is participating in the test track for automated driving
  • Franco-German test track being established between Merzig and Metz
  • Franco-German Declaration on the Franco-German Initiative on Electric and Digital Mobility
  • Franco-German Declaration on the establishment of a Franco-German Digital Test Bed
  • Projects on test beds (selection)