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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.

Digital test beds in the public road environment are an essential part of innovation funding and focus on different social target groups. The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure is supporting the trialling of new technologies on digital test beds – on all categories of roads and across borders. This enables industry and the research community to gain experience in real world driving and in driving situations of varying degrees of complexity. Policymakers gain new insights that are the basis of transport policy decisions. The test beds enable citizens to experience the potential inherent in the new technologies in a tangible way.

Responsibility for the conduct of the trialling of new technologies on test beds 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 special 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. The Test Bed offers, among other things, seamless high-speed LTE communications coverage and a 5G test bed. 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 being trialled and conclusions for developing appropriate and forward-looking road infrastructure are drawn.

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.

Intelligent infrastructure projects on the Digital Motorway Test Bed (in English)

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 further steps be taken to support 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 supports projects on a variety of digital test beds in urban and rural areas. Innovative and application-related projects are supported by research funding.

Franco-German-Luxembourg Digital Test Bed

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The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure is also supporting the cross-border trialling of technologies for automated and connected driving. The “Franco-German Initiative on Electric and Digital Mobility” led to the establishment of the cross-border Franco-German Digital Test Bed, which was then joined by Luxembourg. This was the beginning of a European lighthouse project in the heart of Europe and reaffirmed the joint commitment to a sustainable, efficient European transport and economic policy that is fit for the future.

Image film of the Minister’s visit to the cross-border test bed (in German /English)

The objective of the Test Bed is to enable trials for the operational safety of automated driving functions in cross-border transport operations, the linkage between automated driving functions and connected driving, including the link with Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS), research on the impact and effects of automated and connected driving as well as on the challenges posed by the generation, processing, storage, transmission and utilization of data for automated and connected driving.

The Test Bed runs from Merzig via Saarlouis and Saarbrücken in Germany to Metz in France and via the Bettembourg region in Luxembourg. All road categories (motorways, rural roads and local authority roads) can be used for trials. 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.

The strategy for the cross-border Digital Test Bed can be downloaded here.

Points of contact

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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: 0049-30 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.