Autonomous Driving and Networks

Highly automated driving and increasing digitalization lead to an increasing availability of internal and external data and hold great potential for the mobility of the future. This data can be used to make predictions and trigger measures: for example, when the real-time driving logs of a company-wide networked truck fleet can be used to organize the transport of goods for collection, when weather and traffic data provide indications that a delivery might be delayed, or when cars help to avoid accidents using intelligent sensors. To be able to use these forms of mobility in the future requires the right technologies and data as well as the right connection between them. It is not enough to simply collect this data; it needs to be analyzed and selected, interpreted, optimized and then used. And this needs to be done for a large number of processes, often in real-time! In the future, it will be more and more important to choose the right technology to connect selected information from complex infrastructures in a given time to generate value added.

The following topics present a selection of the relevant work and research topics of Fraunhofer People Mobility.

Autonomous Driving – communication of vehicles

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In the future, vehicles communicate continuously with their environment and react to dangers on their own. The key to this is the intelligent networking of vehicles that are permanently connected to the internet, other vehicles, the environment and satellites via a powerful air interface. Even ships and planes will be increasingly networked to provide access to a fast and reliable broadband connection there as well (via satellite).

In order to make this scenario come true, Fraunhofer People Mobility is already working on tomorrow’s mobile ecosystems today. We develop and test the transmission technology basis for different application scenarios and provide solutions for data transmission and distribution. We optimize data transmission by developing reliable mobile phone and radio connections for mobile communication. To ensure the best possible data distribution within a vehicle, we are working on high-speed bus systems for broadband on-board vehicle power supplies.


Project example:

Connected mobility – vehicle communication (project page, Fraunhofer SCS) – project to develop innovative data transmission technologies for intelligent networking of vehicles.

Acceptance of autonomous and connected systems

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The general availability of autonomous vehicles could become the greatest change to our mobility habits since the invention of the car. Fully automated vehicles could make individual and flexible mobility available to people without a driving license or living in rural regions. They could make driving safer and reduce the costs of mobility. So far, it is still unclear, however, how people will react to this technological revolution.

Fraunhofer People Mobility explores the questions surrounding the acceptance of autonomous driving systems as well as other innovative technologies and services by conducting surveys, focus groups or expert workshops or in laboratories. In this context, it is possible to study different forms of autonomous systems and their integration into mobility services, in order to support vehicle manufacturers, mobility service providers and public administration in preparing for future products, services or regulations.


Project examples:

Karlsruhe: Profile region for mobility systems (press release, KIT) – different partners are working together in a network to strengthen the location of Baden-Wuerttemberg as a center for mobility in the long term.

Mobilitäts- und Kraftstoffstrategie II (MKS II) (Fraunhofer ISI / IML, GER) – on behalf of the BMVI, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is cooperating with scientific and consulting partners to provide the accompanying research for the Mobility and Fuels Strategy. Alongside individual studies of selected issues, an overall strategy is developed on the use of alternative energies and new forms of mobility with a long-term perspective.

The impacts of connected vehicles

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Vehicles are becoming increasingly networked. The constant communication of vehicles with other vehicles and the infrastructure is called V2V (vehicle-to-vehicle) or V2X (vehicle-to-X). The networking and communication of vehicles can make a significant contribution to improving road safety and efficiency. This networking generates a huge amount of data, which can be analyzed to provide situation-related information. Other vehicles can warn drivers about wrong-way drivers, for example, or provide fast detours in case of traffic jams or construction sites. Detecting dangerous situations early on helps to avoid accidents. Improving road safety and efficiency can only be achieved if there is a high degree of market penetration. However, networking vehicles not only requires special technologies inside the vehicles, but also the corresponding infrastructures and safety standards so that – for instance – vehicles cannot be hacked and remotely controlled. This can only be ensured by creating the appropriate framework conditions. This requires cooperation between science, the public sector and industry.

Fraunhofer People Mobility analyzes the trend, development and impacts of networking vehicles and infrastructures.


Project example:

Police mobility 2025 (project page, Fraunhofer IML) – study commissioned by the Ministry of the Interior and Sport in Lower Saxony to identify relevant trends for police vehicle fleets.

Development of intelligent goods distribution through highly automated vehicles – logistic application potentials

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Highly automated vehicles make it possible to rethink existing structures and processes. Automated vehicles can be used in both road and rail transport. Manufacturers are currently hard at work on assistance and control systems to make automated vehicles ready for series production in the near future. It is assumed that assistance systems will control vehicles on highways in the medium term and will ease the pressure on drivers in many different situations in the long term. These technological developments lead to new opportunities for transport and corporate logistics. For example, in-house work transports can be automated and completely redesigned. Market and potential analyses help to identify fields of application that are particularly suited to automated vehicles and automated driving. Fraunhofer has many years of experience in developing distribution networks, TMS systems and efficient logistics. These methods can be adapted and used as a basis for evaluating the application possibilities of highly automated and autonomous commercial vehicles.

Fraunhofer People Mobility assists you with planning, evaluating and implementing (highly) automated road and rail vehicles in a logistic environment as well as their economic evaluation and questions related to migration scenarios and integration strategies for existing fleets.


Sample project:

ZF Future study 2016 »The last mile« – (press release, Fraunhofer IML, GER) – future study on behalf of ZF Friedrichshafen AG to document technologies for the last mile in 2030.