Driverless Safeguards for Mobile Roadworks on Motorways
Published OEM&Lieferant 1/2017
The research project ’aFAS - Automated Unmanned Protective Vehicle for Highway Hard Shoulder Road Works’ - initiated in 2014, pursues the goal of testing an unmanned automated vehicle on public roads for the first time. At the mid-way presentation of the project, MAN Truck and Bus AG, together with seven consortium partners, has now demonstrated the development status of this vehicle. ServiceXpert Gesellschaft für Service-Informationssysteme mbH has supported MAN throughout the development, construction and testing of the prototypes.
Important elements of the road maintenance service work on the motorway network include sweeping the carriageway, cleaning road gullies, washing delineator posts and cutting grass. Such work on motorway hard shoulders is carried out by means of mobile work crews (mobile roadworks) with low operational speeds of up to 10 km/h. In this case, vehicles with mobile road signs and illuminated displays are used to warn the approaching road users and to protect the work area from moving traffic. However, serious rear-end collisions repeatedly occur with these vehicles whereby the personnel carried inside are particularly exposed to a high casualty risk.
The objective of the ‘aFAS’ project, which was started in 2014 and is funded and promoted through the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) for a term of four years, is to sustainably reduce accident risk through the development of an automated, driverless safety vehicle, so that operational personnel will be kept away from the hazardous area. In this project, an automated driverless vehicle will be tested in public traffic areas for the first time.
In addition to MAN Truck & Bus AG, seven other partners from industry, research and administration are also involved in the implementation of the project - BASt, Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences, TU Brunswick – Institute of Control Engineering, ZF TRW, WABCO, Robert Bosch Automotive Steering GmbH and Hessen Mobil. Know-how and experience flow directly from the Highway Maintenance Services to the development. Furthermore, detailed investigations of traffic flow and a comprehensive legal evaluation of the project are being performed.
Since automated operation is only permitted at low speeds on the hard shoulder at a defined distance to the working vehicle ahead and the road maintenance personnel constitute a closed group, the conditions for testing a driverless automated vehicle are particularly favourable. Series components are being used as far as possible for the standard vehicle control system as well as for the implementation of functional safety aspects. The sensory recording of the surroundings, i.e. the identification of lanes, objects, open spaces, etc., is implemented with the help of close-to-production cameras and radar systems. An automotive WLAN connection between the vehicles allows the specification of various automatic operating modes, such as following at large or very small distances, as well as an exchange of motion and diagnostic information.
Apart from the tight timetable, the main challenge for the project is the high requirement for functional safety of the system as a result of the driverless operation. Compared to systems in which the driver can, as a fallback system, again take over control of the vehicle at any time, steering and braking systems, sensors, environmental detection and controlling software components in a driverless system must meet especially strict criteria for safety-related systems in motor vehicles.
MAN Truck & Bus AG is supported by ServiceXpert Gesellschaft für Service-Informationssysteme mbH in implementing this challenging task. ServiceXpert’s involvement extends over the entire development process from hazard and risk analysis, definition of requirements and concept through to development, construction and testing of prototypes. The main focus here in particular is on the model-based development of the longitudinal and transverse control as well as the development of condition-management with comprehensive functions for perception of the vehicle’s own limits and those of the system.
Other elements within the range of tasks are the coordination and support of mechanical and electrical integration of system components, as well as component and integration tests by means of software in the loop methods and on closed test tracks. The competence of the ServiceXpert team in the areas of functional safety and diagnostics complements the development’s focus. The employees can also take advantage of the extensive know-how of OEM-specific processes from the projects carried out together in the past.
On October 26, 2016, the developmental status of the prototype was successfully presented to the public on the BASt test ground. The feedback from a specialist audience of industry representatives, road infrastructure operators, research and education as well as the press was very positive. The prototype will be tested in a pilot operation on a motorway hard shoulder in Hessen by the end of the project in 2018. Until then the focus of the project is on the further development, testing and authorisation of the driverless automated safety vehicle for use in traffic as well as on the preparation of the pilot operation. The project will provide important insights for more safety on mobile construction sites as well as further impulses for the further development of fully automated and driverless vehicles in public road transport. ServiceXpert GmbH will continue to support MAN Truck & Bus AG as a competent partner within the scope of this project. Furthermore, the ServiceXpert team supports other commercial vehicle manufacturers and their suppliers in both on and off-highway environments, in the development of forward-looking technologies and in contributing to their successful launch.
ServiceXpert, an ESG-Group company, employs over 85 staff in Hamburg and Munich. ServiceXpert is a Europe-wide operating system and software house with a focused service portfolio for Lifecycle management of EE information for leading manufacturers of commercial vehicle and their supplier industry.