Ger­many, France plan cross-bor­der self-driv­ing test zone

Global Times - Weekend - - TECH -

Euro­pean neigh­bors Ger­many and France plan to test self­driv­ing ve­hi­cles on a stretch of road link­ing the two coun­tries, the trans­port min­istry in Berlin said Wed­nes­day.

The route – aimed at test­ing “au­to­mated and con­nected driv­ing in real cross-bor­der traf­fic” – will stretch around 70 kilo­me­ters, from Merzig in Ger­many’s west­ern Saar­land state to Metz in eastern France.

“Man­u­fac­tur­ers will be able to test the con­nec­tiv­ity of their sys­tems, for ex­am­ple when lanes or speed lim­its change at the bor­der,” Ger­man Trans­port Min­is­ter Alexan­der Do­brindt said in a state­ment fol­low­ing a meet­ing with French coun­ter­part Alain Vi­dalies.

“We want to set world­wide stan­dards for this key tech­nol­ogy through co­op­er­a­tion be­tween Europe’s two big­gest car-pro­duc­ing coun­tries,” he noted.

The route will al­low test­ing of 5G wire­less com­mu­ni­ca­tions be­tween cars and in­fra­struc­ture, au­to­mated ma­neu­vers such as over­tak­ing and brak­ing, and emer­gency warn­ing and call sys­tems, among oth­ers.

Ger­many, home to car giants such as Volk­swa­gen, Daim­ler and BMW, al­ready boasts a num­ber of test zones for au­to­mated ve­hi­cles on mo­tor­ways and in cities, but this is the first that will cross into an­other coun­try.

The Ger­man trans­port min­istry has of­fered 100 mil­lion eu­ros ($107 mil­lion) in fund­ing for the projects.

The tests come as the na­tion’s tra­di­tional carmakers are rac­ing to catch up to Sil­i­con Val­ley new­com­ers such as Tesla, Uber and Al­pha­bet in the new field, seen as the fu­ture of driv­ing.

Au­to­mated trucks in par­tic­u­lar are ex­pected to shake up the road trans­port sec­tor in the years to come.

In a glimpse of what lies ahead, man­u­fac­tur­ers took part in an ex­per­i­ment in 2016 that saw six con­voys of “smart” trucks cross sev­eral Euro­pean coun­tries us­ing “pla­toon­ing” – in which a lead­ing truck sets the route and speed for wire­lessly con­nected, self-driv­ing fol­low­ers.

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