Siemens to build the “Digital Autobahn”

June 16, 2016 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
As a building block for autonomous driving and future smart highways, Siemens will equip a stretch of the German Autobahn A9 between Munich and Nuremberg with sensors that generate real-time traffic data. The project is part of the “Digital Test Field” of Germany’s government that investigates the potential of automated and networked driving.

Within the project, Siemens will install radar sensors along the Autobahn A9, one or Germany’s busiest trunk roads. These radar sensors will acquire traffic data and feed them in real-time into a cloud-based server for processing and evaluation. Located on sign gantries and dedicated masts, the sensors measure the speed of the vehicles – not for purposes of traffic surveillance and law enforcement but to gain timely information on traffic flow, speed distribution across traffic lanes and traffic stalls.

 

These data are forwarded to the mCloud, a server provided by the German transport ministry. There, they will be made available to the interested parties in the scientific community and the digital economy to build innovative mobility solutions.

 

The radar system works without imaging function to avoid privacy issues and because the system does only require speed data. The 77 GHz radar chips will be provided by Infineon and are integral part of driver assistance systems.

 

For the start, the project team has identified three application cases:

  • Regular operation. In this case, the system measures the traffic flow on all lanes and uses the dynamic data to identify the build-up to a traffic jam at an early state.
  • Deviation from regular operation: This application is intended to be installed at trouble spots. The sensors will in this case identify the rear end of the traffic stall. Here there are frequently heavy accidents through rear-end collisions, in particular if heavy trucks collide with cars that already are have stopped. In this application case, the data can be used to alert subsequent drivers and / or to resolve the traffic jam through re-routing, speed limits and other measures.
  • Another flavor of the deviation from regular operation application is detecting wrong-way drivers with subsequent warnings.

Presently it is however unclear how all these messages will be forwarded to the driver. An obvious solution would be vehicle-to-x communications. A Siemens spokesperson said