Autonomous driving is without a doubt one of the hottest mobility trends of the future. All over the world, research teams are working not only on the development of the connected autonomous vehicles (CAV) themselves, but also on the underlying infrastructure, such as roads, traffic management systems, and communications networks. As part of the German research project ACCorD, a test environment will be built in the cities of Aachen and Düsseldorf to systematically test how autonomous vehicles will interact with the infrastructure and other road users.
Numerous tests and analyses still need to be carried out on the road and in virtual environments until self-driving cars are able to master road traffic safely and reliably. Data is one of the key factors here.
The researchers of the ACCorD project are setting up the connected infrastructure needed for autonomous driving in three different test areas – in urban and rural environments and on a highway. High-precision sensors are recording the entire traffic flow. The data will be collected in a central database and can then be used for further research and developments.
Digital twins help test autonomous vehicles and the infrastructure
“At PTV, we are building digital twins of the test areas. The model will then be fed with the data from the research project,” explains Charlotte Fléchon from PTV’s research team. “This provides the perfect basis for further planning scenarios and model calculations.”
The digital twin enables the researchers to simulate and test all imaginable scenarios realistically. One of the project partners, Ford, wants to analyze the V2X (Vehicle to Everything) communication in the virtual environment, for example. In particular, the simulation will examine communication between self-driving vehicles and traffic lights.
Such simulations are strong tools for deriving infrastructure measures and validating and further developing new driving functions for connected and autonomous vehicles. These, in turn, can then be tested again in reality in the pilot area. This again generates new data.
“The new database will be a valuable source. Currently, there is very little data on lateral movement, such as lane changes, when driving onto the highway or overtaking,” says Charlotte Fléchon. “The data acquired in the ACCorD project will help us further develop our software in the area of CAVs and make it even better.”
The research project, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, aims to create an integrated development environment for systematically testing and securing automated vehicles in interaction with the infrastructure. The project is coordinated by RWTH Aachen University. In addition to PTV, the following companies are involved in the project: e.GO MOOVE GmbH, Ford-Werke GmbH, Landesbetrieb Straßenbau Nordrhein-Westfalen, the City of Aachen, Vodafone GmbH, and ZF Friedrichshafen AG.
Project duration 01/01/2020 to 09/30/2021