Car-to-X communication: Experimental tools from Fraunhofer FOKUS demonstrate their practical application in the largest field test to date

Release from Thu., June 20, 2013

After several years of research & development and the largest field test for co-operative driving to date, the final presentation for the project simTD (Safe Intelligent Mobility – Test Field Germany) took place today at the exhibition center in Frankfurt am Main. A key result of the project: Car-to-X communication enables information to be transferred from vehicles to the traffic control center and vice versa, thus leading to improved knowledge of traffic conditions and faster detection of traffic-related events. Fraunhofer FOKUS assisted the project consortium with the storage and further processing of the high volume of measurement data, as well as with the specification, implementation and supervision of the test scenarios and with quality assurance for the installed hardware and software components.

500 test drivers aged between 23 and 65 tested 85 scenarios in 993 runs over 41,000 hours on motorways in the Rhine-Main area, clocking up more than 1.6 million kilometers. This resulted in 30 terabytes of test data – this being the framework data from the six-month field test of Car-to-X communication in the project simTD. Since September 2008, the project partners – leading German automotive manufacturers, component suppliers, telecommunication companies, research institutions as well as public authorities – have developed a system with which vehicles can exchange data between themselves, with road operators' traffic control centers and with variable message signs, e.g. information about emergency brakings or traffic jams. This exchange of data is done using wireless technology based on the conventional WLAN standard and, in a hybrid approach, also incorporates mobile technology such as UMTS or GPRS.

Dr. Ilja Radusch, the project manager of simTD at Fraunhofer FOKUS, sums it up as follows: "The results of the 6-month field test show that, using Car-to-X communication, the forecasts for transport development and traffic control can be made more reliable, the flow of traffic can be improved and thus road safety can be increased. By collecting the data, implementing the field test and carrying out analysis, Fraunhofer FOKUS was able to make an important contribution. I agree with the estimate from the ‘Car to Car Communication Consortium‘ that Car-to-X communication could be guaranteed in all newly registered cars by 2015."

Perspective in the data jungle

A data toolchain was used by Fraunhofer FOKUS and their partners throughout the entire testing period. This provided a continuous tool-supported process, from the definition of measurements and test runs through to data recording right up to the first inspection and distribution of the data. All of the test data – 30 TB in total, i.e. more than 30 million MB – was collected centrally in a cloud infrastructure at Fraunhofer FOKUS and distributed to the partners after an initial quality assurance check. At the same time, the data toolchain ensured via special markings that the data could be quickly assigned once again to the tests that were conducted.

Test control: From planning to analysis

Fraunhofer FOKUS, together with partners such as Daimler AG, also developed a web scenario editor that created the 85 scenarios and co-ordinated and supervised just under a thousand test runs. When planning the individual test runs, the route, the driver, the vehicle and the configuration parameters for the function being tested were all determined using the editor. At the start of the test, this information was then transferred to the stations concerned (vehicles, roadside stations and others servers in the traffic control center) and displayed to the driver in the car. While the test was being carried out, the position and telemetry of the vehicles was visualized for the examiners, who were able to communicate with the driver by either text or speech-based means. At every stage across the entire database, the web scenario editor constitutes an integrated web-based test planning, implementation and control system that enables comprehensive test control.

Automated tests for the installed software

The researchers from Fraunhofer FOKUS and their partners also developed the simTD-C2X test station. The test station provides the entire Car-to-X architecture, comprising vehicles, infrastructure and a control center for the laboratory tests. Using a test automation system based on the standardized test description language TTCN-3, automated tests were specified, carried out and analyzed in this setting. All the software components from simTD ran through the reference test before being put into practice. The test scenarios developed for the simTD test station were brought in as the basis for the development of conformity and interoperability tests by the standardization authority ETSI.

Fraunhofer FOKUS also takes part in research projects with similar focuses on a European level, e.g. in the DRIVE C2X project. The aim of this project is to set up a Europe-wide, standards-compliant infrastructure for vehicle-to-X communication. With the simTD field test, Germany is now one of seven countries that can provide data from real road traffic.

About simTD:

simTD is a joint project by leading German automotive manufacturers, component suppliers, telecommunication companies, research institutions and public authorities. The project is funded and supported by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi), the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development (BMVBS) as well as the state of Hessen.

About Fraunhofer FOKUS:

The Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems, Fraunhofer FOKUS for short, is a Berlin-based research facility devoted to studying and developing communication and information technologies. In particular, it specializes in multi-domain networks and interoperable, user-centered solutions.

With more than 20 years experience, Fraunhofer FOKUS is an important IT research partner for the telecommunications sector, the automobile industry, media services, and public administrations. It frequently cooperates with governmental agencies and software companies to create need-oriented e-government solutions and is a leading collaborator in projects funded by the European Union as well as by national-level sponsors.