Straight on from the Brandenburg Gate, over the roundabout surrounding the Victory Column, and then continue to the roundabout which circumnavigates Ernst-Reuter-Platz. Europe’s first test track for self-driving vehicles is being created on this 3.7 kilometre, six-lane section in Berlin. To do so, the streets in question are being upgraded from the point of view of information technology. The infrastructure, complete with 15 sets of traffic lights, is being equipped with sensors, cameras and transmitters. This equipment collects traffic data and sends them to self-driving vehicles.
The track is being upgraded as part of the research project “Digitally Networked Protocol Track”, DIGINET-PS for short, run by Prof. Dr. Sahin Albayrak from the Technical University of Berlin. The Federal Ministry for Transport and Digital Infrastructure is funding DIGINET-PS with a total of 3.7 million euros as part of the “Strategy for Automated, Networked Driving”.
Testing under real conditions
It’s important to test self-driving cars under real conditions, Albayrak emphasises: “The aim is to develop a flexible, integrated solution for all associated technologies to enable us to reflect and test automated driving in all its complexity.” The test must also cover how to handle the huge volume of data collected.
For example, information about traffic jams and how long the lights stay red can help to equalise traffic flows. And if you spend less time braking and accelerating from a standing start, you will save fuel. The intention is for the data to also benefit conventional vehicles, the drivers of which will receive them via an app, enabling them to adjust their driving style accordingly. The first self-driving vehicles are to appear on Straße des 17. Juni as early as 2018.
Admittedly, they’re further advanced in the USA. To date it has only been possible to test self-driving cars on the road in a few States. In the late summer, the House of Representatives cleared the way for tests on a grand scale. Each manufacturer is to be allowed to put 25,000 vehicles on the road, and after twelve months, this number can be increased to 50,000 or even 100,000.