Opening of a test track for automated and networked driving in the heart of Berlin (DIGINET-PS)
The research project "The Digital Networked Protocol Route - Urban Test Field - Automated and Networked Driving in Berlin" (DIGINET-PS) at the DAI Laboratory of the TU Berlin deals with the construction of the test field in a highly complex traffic environment in the middle of Berlin. The project, funded by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI), contributes to the implementation of the Smart City strategy of the state of Berlin in the field of mobility and supports the state's Digital Agenda.
The Straße des 17. Juni is one of Berlin's urban lifelines and presents road users with various challenges. From Ernst-Reuter-Platz to Brandenburger Tor, traffic light systems, roundabouts, cycle paths and footpaths, parking lots or entrances and exits must be observed. Ideal conditions for setting up a test track there for the future technologies of automated and networked driving to improve public traffic flows, the environmental situation and the safety of road users.
Over the past 29 months, Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Sahin Albayrak, Managing Director of the DAI Laboratory and Head of the Department of Agent Technologies in Operational Applications and Telecommunications at the TU Berlin, and his research team have developed and set up a networked, urban infrastructure test field on Straße des 17. Juni. The focus was on vehicle-to-infrastructure communication, the combination of sensors and the use of AI mechanisms. In the future, the test track will offer regional and supra-regional companies as well as research institutions the opportunity to research and apply automated and autonomous driving in a real urban environment.
Test track a sign of progressive digitalisation of traffic systems
"We in science see ourselves as drivers of innovation in society. We use Berlin as a real laboratory and show exemplarily how research can be used for citizens," explained the President of the TU Berlin, Prof. Dr. Christian Thomsen, at the opening ceremony of the DIGINET-PS test track on 19 September 2019 in the glass pavilion "bauhaus reuse" on Ernst-Reuter-Platz. The more than 100 guests from politics and business included the Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, Andreas Scheuer, and the Governing Mayor of Berlin as well as the Senator for Science and Research, Michael Müller.
"Automated and networked driving offers enormous opportunities: vehicles communicate with each other and with the surrounding infrastructure, recognize weather conditions, free parking spaces, changing traffic lights. This means greater safety and climate efficiency, improved traffic flow and time savings. We are testing all this here on the new test track in the heart of Berlin, in the middle of capital city traffic. My house is supporting the project with over 4.6 million euros. Technological development is progressing rapidly worldwide - that is why we must now be active and support research in Germany. The knowledge gained here in Berlin, among other places, is an important basis for future transport policy decisions," said Federal Minister Andreas Scheuer at the opening of the test track. The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure has been funding the research project since the start of the project in April 2017 as part of the Federal Government's "Strategy for Automated and Networked Driving".
In addition, the project was supported by the Berlin Senate Department for the Environment, Transport and Climate Protection. The Governing Mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller, emphasized: "Today's project launch shows once again that Berlin is a pioneer for innovation and our scientific institutions play a central role in this. We are using the findings of excellent Berlin research to advance Berlin as a smart city and to shape the mobility of the future as well as intelligent traffic concepts beyond the borders of our city. The DAI Laboratory of the Technical University of Berlin under the direction of Professor Albayrak is an outstanding example of this. At the same time, it is representative of hundreds of scientists who have turned our metropolitan region into an international hotspot for research on digitisation and artificial intelligence".
When everything communicates with everything
The core of the project is the DIGINET-PS reference framework. It was developed at the TU Berlin and creates the conditions for test track, vehicles and control center to communicate with each other. More than 100 sensors along the test track record weather conditions, traffic volume, parking situation, environmental pollution or road conditions. This data is analysed and evaluated anonymously along the road and in the control centre by specially developed software, so that forecasts can be made on a wide variety of topics. Using a communication infrastructure based on ITS-5G and 4G, the data is shared with the networked vehicles and thus the perception and decision making for various critical manoeuvres and application scenarios is improved. With this new intelligent infrastructure, the car can, for example, warn or even predict accident points with cyclists* on the track.
The automated and networked vehicles are equipped with cameras, radar and laser scanners so that information can be collected in 360 degrees around the car, analyzed and exchanged with other automated and networked vehicles. In other words, if a traffic light changes to green, the vehicles are informed of this by the control center and can react quickly in a coordinated manner. It is also possible for the intelligent driving systems to recognize other road users such as pedestrians* and react to the situation accordingly.
Professor Albayrak is convinced: "Through the central collection, aggregation and evaluation of data, we will be able to develop innovative, secure solutions for road traffic problems, generate new ecosystems and business models, and create added value". In addition to TU Berlin, Fraunhofer FOKUS, Daimler Center for Automotive IT Innovations (DCAITI), T-Systems International and the Berlin agency for electromobility eMO as well as numerous other implementation partners such as Cisco, TÜV Nord and BVG were involved in the development of sensors, vehicle technology and data systems.