14 Months of Autonomous Driving in Real-life Traffic in Karlsruhe: Minister of Transport Hermann Informs Himself about the Work in the Real Laboratory

For more than one year, research institutions as well as small and medium-sized industrial companies have been able to test automated driving and functions on the public Test Area Autonomous Driving Baden-Württemberg. On July 3, the Baden-Württemberg Minister of Transport Winfried Hermann informed himself about current projects in Karlsruhe.

Image source: FZI Forschungszentrum Informatik

Karlsruhe, July 3, 2019 – Vehicles that communicate with traffic lights and other traffic participants, a driverless taxi that is called if necessary via an app: The visit of the Baden-Württemberg Minister of Transport Winfried Hermann on the Test Area Autonomous Driving Baden-Württemberg (TAF BW) on Wednesday was characterised by interactivity. The Minister of Transport called an autonomous taxi via a smartphone app to his location and let himself be automatically chauffeured over a parcours at the Campus East of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) where the vehicle autonomously communicated with traffic lights, pedestrians and cyclists. During the automated parking process, the vehicle demonstrated with what precision it works without human assistance.

Minister of Transport Winfried Hermann emphasised: "Autonomous driving can and should be an essential component for a sustainable mobility of the future. However, for a wider acceptance it is important to develop these technologies together with humans. Real laboratories are suitable for this purpose."

Minister Hermann referred to the implementation possibilities of autonomous driving: "Especially in the public transport we want to benefit from its advantages. We hope to decrease rides using passenger cars by providing autonomously driving buses that can be multiply occupied. Even the rural area could be better connected to the centres. Important impulses could also be given on road safety, which can especially be improved in the individual transport and even by a partial automation. I am therefore very delighted to experience the progresses made on the test area funded by the federal state and I notice that the technology is quite attractive. I am convinced that the acceptance among the general public will increase." The Minister of Transport issued an invitation to research institutions, companies, transport companies and municipalities to test automated driving themselves and invited them to the test area to Karlsruhe.

The Manager of the test area's consortium, Professor Marius Zöllner, explained: "In the recent 14 months various projects were launched on the test area, additionally it is constantly further extended. From autonomous parking and the operation of autonomous shuttles, to the research of legal frameworks up to the social acceptance of autonomous driving cars, new mobility forms are extensively developed in Baden-Württemberg."

Professor Zöllner added: "I am glad that we were able to show the Baden-Württemberg Minister of Transport today that we set new standards concerning the interdisciplinary research in Karlsruhe. At the same time, I am proud to say that we are registering an increasing interest in industrial companies. This shows us that we are on the right path", stated the Member of the Board of Executive Directors of the FZI Research Center for Information Technology and professor of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.

Lord Mayor Dr. Frank Mentrup declared: "Locally, regionally – Europe-wide: Karlsruhe shapes the mobility of tomorrow on many levels. With the test area, which is currently being established in Karlsruhe and in the region, we are bravely starting a whole new chapter of future mobility. We expect through a smart, innovative connection of autonomously driving vehicles in the public transport new opportunities to achieve a better mobility for everyone, without – and that's the key point – generating more traffic at the same time."

Michael Decker, professor for Technology Assessment and head of the division "Informatics, Economics, and Society" of KIT said: "The TAF BW forms as a transdisciplinary real laboratory an important bridge between research and application and thus triggers the exchange between science, economy and society. The activities of KIT and its strong partners reach from economical-legal to psychological-ethical-social questions and also include the IT security of systems. This comprehensive analysis under real-life conditions is the key to successful innovations.

The interactive demonstration of autonomous driving functions was embedded into presentations, in which the test area consortium informed the Minister of Transport Hermann about the current equipment of the test area, which oriented itself towards the demands of the test area users in the past few months. Moreover, various research projects were presented, which interdisciplinarily deal with the topic of Autonomous Driving on the test area. This included the "smart mobility" projects in Karlsruhe, funded by the Federal State of Baden-Württemberg, which deal with topics such as the optimisation of the visual recognisability of pedestrians on the basis of an interconnected infrastructure as well as with smart car parks that should enable autonomous parking for vehicles of different degrees of autonomy. The legal frameworks are also examined in the "smart mobility" funding and eventually also the opportunities and risks of autonomous driving. In a further project, funded by the Ministry of Transport, Karlsruhe researchers evaluated the traffic impacts of autonomous driving.

In a dialogue with representatives of the company Porsche and Visteon, both located in Baden-Württemberg, the Minister of Transport was informed about the fact that science and industry work hand in hand concerning the mobility research. Both companies develop autonomous driving functions and thereby count on the testing in real road traffic. A special highlight was the first shuttle bus for the project EVA-Shuttle that arrived on time for the visit at the FZI and that will be upgraded through automated driving functions for the mixed traffic over the next months. The public transport project, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, counts on the testing of autonomously, electrically driven mini shuttle buses for the first and last mile in real operation.

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About the Test Area Autonomous Driving Baden-Württemberg

In the Test Area Autonomous Driving Baden-Württemberg (TAF BW), companies and research institutes can test future-oriented technologies and services for networked and automated driving in everyday traffic, for example automated driving of cars, buses or commercial vehicles such as street cleaning or delivery services. In addition, regulatory and legal framework conditions can be updated. For this purpose, traffic areas of all kinds were prepared, highly accurate 3D maps were developed as well as sensors for real-time acquisition of the traffic and its influencing factors were installed amongst others during the construction phase.

The leading Ministry of Transport provided EUR 2.5 million for the conception, planning and construction of the test area. The construction of the test area started in 2016, the launch took place in May 2018. The Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts (MWK) and the Ministry of Transport (VM) fund the research on the test area with the project "smart mobility" with further EUR 2.5 million.

Further information can be found at: www.taf-bw.de

Press contact of the consortium

FZI Forschungszentrum Informatik
Julia Feilen, Communications
Phone: +49 721 9654-943
Email: feilen@dont-want-spam.fzi.de