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SHOW Pilotsite Graz: Preparations for demo operations are ongoing

Nov 30, 2021

As part of the EU project SHOW, the operation of electrified, connected and automated vehicle fleets in the context of passenger transport and logistics is demonstrated in (peri-)urban areas across Europe. Austria is part of the project as a so-called „Mega Site“ and is operating three pilot sites.

Within these pilot sites located in Carinthia (Klagenfurt and Pörtschach), Graz and Salzburg, certain aspects of automated mobility solutions are being tested. Depending on the defined objectives and the regional circumstances, the consortia face very different challenges. We spoke to Joachim Hillebrand from VIRTUAL VEHICLE Research GmbH, head of the pilot site Graz, to get an insight into the activities and the current status of the project.

Why did you decide to become part of the SHOW project?

The research center VIRTUAL VEHICLE has been covering the topic of automated driving for years now. VIRTUAL VEHICLE owns several prototype vehicle demonstrators that are used for testing automated driving functions in various environments. It has always been important to us to study these vehicles in complex traffic environments and for that, the SHOW project, with its focus on cities, is the ideal opportunity. The pilot site Graz offers the extraordinary possibility to investigate the interactions with public transport and infrastructure as well as interacting with automated vehicles from other partners.

Where specifically do you see the advantages of automated mobility solutions in public transport?

More sustainable mobility in today’s crowded cities can only work if we reduce the number of vehicles without sacrificing comfort for the citizens. In this scenario, automated mobility solutions will offer great opportunities. There is no need to pick up automated vehicles; instead, they come to their users. There is no need to own a car, find a parking spot or own a driver‘s license. Automated mobility solutions can become as comfortable as a taxi nowadays is, but with affordable prices for the general public.

Which challenges do you face as part of the project?

In our pilot site in Graz, we are aiming at transporting passengers to a shopping center with automated vehicles. The big challenge here is, to test automated driving with many people and other vehicles around. To avoid any accidents, we have created a special risk analysis, which we use to adaptively take appropriate measures depending on the route section. For an especially risky section of the route, we have decided that the safety operator will drive the vehicle manually. At the same time, the driving algorithms and sensors remain active in order to collect data of realistic situations. This enables us to analyse and prepare automated journeys in busy places in the future.

Messfahrt auf der Pilotsite Graz-Puntigam

Measurement run on the pilot side in Graz-Puntigam, Copyright: VIRTUAL VEHICLE

What is the most important milestone for you or for your pilot site?

The most important milestone for the pilot site in Graz is the first automated drive on the designated route. The preparations for this are in full swing, we have for example measured the entire route with centimeter precision, to ensure that the vehicles can use their sensors for localisation based on the environment. Curbstones, traffic signs or other objects in the vicinity can be such indicators. Additionally, the automated journey is simulated in advance and the results are transferred to the real vehicles. This includes parameters such as the optimal trajectory, speed, distances to other vehicles, and avoidance strategies for objects. In the SHOW project, the so-called pre-demo phase begins with the first real trips on the route in which the vehicles are further optimised to the route before the service is even offered to passengers.

Thank you for the talk!