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Project HEAT: The HOCHBAHN research project on autonomous minibuses

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News
date
1 September 2019
Hochbahn

Hochbahn

At the end of August the first testing-phase of the research and development project HEAT (Hamburg Electric Autonomous Transportation) was successfully completed. Over the past few weeks, the automated vehicle has driven on a defined route without passengers and with a professional vehicle attendant who was on board at all times. The focus of this first testing-phase was on the accuracy of the localisation of the vehicle, its reaction to obstacles and the behaviour of the infrastructure during operation.

Along with the minibus, which was specially developed for this project by IAV, the research project primarily focuses on issues relating to traffic and IT infrastructure, digital control technology and technical interfaces within the system. Therefore SIEMENS developed and installed supplementary intelligent infrastructure along the route, including sensors and a digital communications system. In addition, HOCHBAHN’s control center continually monitored the progress of the minibus. All in all the system, comprised of vehicle, roadside infrastructure and control center, ensures a high degree of safety and availability of autonomous operation.

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Lexicon

7 words explained

platooning

Also known as flocking. A collection of (automated) vehicles that travel together, actively coordinated in formation. Platoons decrease the distances between vehicles using electronic, and possibly mechanical, coupling. Platooning allows many vehicles to accelerate or brake simultaneously.

urban setting

High density environment with an efficient high capacity public transport system with good capillarity and high frequencies.

suburban setting

Medium density environment with a good public transport system with radial connections to the city center, but lower capillarity and frequencies. This setting includes suburban cities.

small cities

Small, isolated city with an own public transport system and <100K inhabitants.

rural

Low-density environment, small cities and villages with poor public transport services mainly connecting the villages.

SAE level

The SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) levels define the level of vehicle autonomy, or in other words, how much human intervention is still needed for an automated vehicle to operate. Currently, five SAE levels have been defined: Level 0: Automated system issues warnings and may momentarily intervene but has no sustained vehicle control. Level 1 (hands on): Driver and automatic system share vehicle control. The driver must be ready to retake full control at any time. Level 2 (hands off): The automated system takes full control of the vehicle (accelerating, braking, and steering). The driver must monitor the driving and be prepared to intervene immediately at any time if the automated system fails to respond properly. Level 3 (eyes off): The automated system takes full control of the vehicle (accelerating, braking, and steering). The driver must monitor the driving and be prepared to intervene immediately at any time if the automated system fails to respond properly. Level 4 (mind off): As level 3, but no driver attention is ever required for safety, e.g. the driver may safely go to sleep or leave the driver's seat. Level 5 (steering wheel optional): No human intervention is required at all. An example would be a robotic taxi.

V2X

Vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication is the passing of information from a vehicle to any entity that may affect the vehicle, and vice versa.