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120-Car Fleet Testing Intelligent Vehicle Network

simTD dashboard display (Martin Leissl/Technische Universität München)

simTD dashboard display (Martin Leissl/Technische Universität München)

A fleet of 120 cars began today a field test in Germany of intelligent vehicle technology. Researchers at Munich Technical University (Technische Universität München, TUM) designed the testing scenarios and will process the data, as part of a larger project involving auto manufacturers, technology providers, universities, and research institutes.

The Safe Intelligent Mobility – Test Field Germany (simTD) project aims to help drivers select the best routes, detect obstacles before they see them, and cut greenhouse gas emissions through energy-efficient driving. The system tested in simTD networks cars with other cars and to the surrounding infrastructure.

The simTD system uses wireless technology developed for automotive electronics, based on the Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) standard. The system supports direct transfers with other vehicles or fixed stations installed along the road. If the receiving vehicle is not located close to the sender, other vehicles can transmit, or store and forward, the information.

The test involves 120 cars with simTD technology driving on streets, roads, and highways in and around Frankfurt, an important German traffic hub. Test vehicles transmit information on the traffic conditions to a control station, which then predicts and manages changes in traffic, with an in-car display providing drivers with recommendations on the best route.

Like a GPS, simTD helps drivers at intersections or traffic lights by providing a timely display of the right lane for the next turn. However, the system can also advise drivers on the optimum speed to take advantage of synchronized green traffic lights.

The simTD can alert drivers as well to imminent hazards based on driving behavior of other vehicles. The system can warn the driver of one vehicle, for example, if a car ahead stops suddenly well before the driver needs to react. Other alerts include emergency vehicles or items accidently dropped from a truck blocking lanes ahead, with recomendations of alternative routes.

Researchers at TUM designed the field tests and will analyze the data generated by the test vehicles and roadside stations. The team headed by professor Fritz Busch, who chairs TUM’s traffic engineering department, will simulate the impact on traffic in the test areas if certain proportions of cars are fitted with this technology.

Participants in simTD include auto makers Opel, Audi, BMW, Daimler, Ford, and Volkswagen, as well as technology providers Robert Bosch. Continental, and Deutsche Telekom. In addtion to TUM, research institutes and universities participating in the project include Fraunhofer Institute, Berlin Technical University, Academy of Sciences of the Saarland, German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence, and University of Würzburg. The German state agency Hessen Mobil-Road and Traffic Management is also taking part.

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