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Digital Motorway Test Bed

Source: BMVI

Digital change is bringing about a fundamental transformation in all areas of transport and mobility. New technologies and communications systems are finding their way into modern vehicles, resulting in connectivity that opens up new possibilities and redefines mobility in private transport. The digitalization of road transport also plays a major role here.

By establishing the Digital Motorway Test Bed on the A 9 federal motorway in Bavaria, which is one of the busiest motorways in the whole of Germany, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure has created the conditions for industry and academia to trial forward-looking systems and technologies in an ideal and perfect environment – a "laboratory with real-life conditions" – in real-world driving. The Digital Motorway Test Bed is operated by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, together 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).

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. Furthermore, on the Digital Motorway Test Bed, innovative approaches on the intelligent road are tested and conclusions for developing an appropriate and forward-looking infrastructure are drawn.

The measures and projects on the Digital Motorway Test Bed are carried out in the two thematic areas of "automated and connected driving" and "intelligent infrastructure".

Automated and connected driving

In general, automated driving functions can be trialled anywhere in Germany. The Digital Motorway Test Bed is characterized by its unique infrastructure equipment, which offers test opportunities in particular with regard to connected driving (vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication) and its interaction with automated driving functions. Seamless high-speed LTE communications coverage is available on the Test Bed, so that evolutions towards a more efficient 5G mobile network can be trialled. A high-speed LAN connection is also available at selected locations which, for example, enables players from the automotive industry to transmit large data volumes rapidly when carrying out activities on the ground. Also, data can be prepared in a standardized format and made available to all users of the test bed via the MDM (Mobility Data Marketplace). This makes it possible for users to access up-to-the-minute and high-precision traffic information. Special road furniture such as crash barriers with reflectors and special signs, which serve to trial different sensor models (radar, laser, Lidar, cameras etc.), support the vehicles in adjusting to the environment.

Responsibility for the conduct of the trials lies with the users. All the measures are based on the applicable legal framework. The Digital Motorway Test Bed is open for use to all interested companies and research establishments. The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure has established the Communication and Coordination Platform for Automated Driving (KOAF) which is to serve as a focal point for questions and concrete measures (and their implementation). It can be contacted at koaf@bmvi.bund.de.

Intelligent infrastructure

The digitalization of the infrastructure opens up new ways to improve road safety, to develop a sustainable infrastructure and finally to enhance mobility. In order to fully exhaust the potential inherent in the digitalized road, various intelligent infrastructure innovations are being trialled and evolved on the Digital Motorway Test Bed. 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.

Further digital test beds for automated and connected driving

Taking as starting points the rapid pace of technological development and increasingly fierce international competition, the next steps are to be taken to push forward the development of automated and connected driving in rural and urban areas. In real-world driving, insights are to be gained on complex driving situations, e.g. at traffic lights, intersections, in interaction with non-motorized road users, in order to render the interplay of motorway, rural and urban traffic future-proof.

The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure provides funding to projects on various digital test beds, specifically in the cities of Berlin, Braunschweig, Dresden, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Ingolstadt, Munich. Innovative and application-related projects receive financial assistance under the Research Programme on Automation and Connectivity in Road Transport.

The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure is also funding cross-border trialling of technologies for automated and connected driving. As part of the "Franco-German Initiative on Electric and Digital Mobility" which was launched in September 2016, a cross-border "Franco-German Digital Test Bed" will be established. A memorandum of understanding was signed in February 2017 to this end, which establishes the objectives, the main aspects of the cooperation and the alignment of the route. The test bed will run from Merzig via Saarlouis and Saarbrücken to the French city of Metz.

The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure has established the Communication and Coordination Platform for Automated Driving (KOAF) which is to serve as a focal point for questions regarding urban test beds and the Franco-German Digital Test Bed. It can be contacted at koaf@bmvi.bund.de.