Why do we make autonomous vehicles

May 19, 2021

Optimizing traffic through autonomous vehicles - scientists from the Heinz Nixdorf Institute at the University of Paderborn are researching the potential of networked and autonomous driving

Green traffic lights, intelligent routes and fewer emissions - can autonomous vehicles optimize our traffic? Self-driving cars are no longer science fiction. Scientists from the Heinz Nixdorf Institute at the University of Paderborn are working on a new project with the potential of autonomous vehicles and investigating how self-driving cars can improve the flow of traffic and ultimately protect the environment. The project entitled “TraCMAS - Traffic Control for Mixed Autonomy Systems” is being funded by the Karl Vossloh Foundation for three years with 248,000 euros.

Great potential for the traffic of the future?

The project started last month. "Autonomous vehicles offer great opportunities and at the same time present us with a variety of challenges," says Christopher Link, scientist in the control engineering and mechatronics group under the direction of Prof. Dr.-Ing. Ansgar Trächtler. In the new project, the scientists want to research the potential of autonomous vehicles and so-called Car2X communication in order to reduce waiting times, keep traffic flowing and reduce pollutant emissions. "While autonomous vehicles no longer need a driver to control the vehicle, Car2X communication means that vehicles communicate with their surroundings, but also with each other," explains Link.

“In contrast to many other research projects, we are looking at semi-autonomous traffic,” explains Link. “That means that we are concentrating on the period of the introduction of autonomous vehicles into conventional traffic.” Since autonomous vehicles are only gradually being introduced into our existing traffic, this transition phase is important, but also challenging. Because: Autonomous vehicles have to interact with both non-autonomous vehicles and non-motorized road users such as pedestrians or cyclists. “By mapping the real road network of Paderborn in the simulation, we also create realistic conditions in our purely simulative work,” explains Link.

Less traffic jams and emissions

With the use of autonomous vehicles, one could help to resolve many ubiquitous problems and disruptions in daily traffic, according to the Paderborn scientist. As an example, he cites the reduction of waiting times within the street network of a city: “The sensors of the autonomous vehicles can be used to record and reconstruct the traffic situation in real time. With the help of this traffic image, both autonomous and conventional vehicles can be informed about the current traffic situation. Autonomous vehicles are thus able to automatically choose a different route in order to avoid heavily loaded intersections. The goal is the best possible guidance through the road network in order to relieve certain points, ”says Link. This relief would not only reduce the waiting time at major intersections, but also stop-and-go traffic, which ultimately lowers pollutant emissions.

In their investigations, the scientists also look at vehicles that are not autonomous. "Conventional vehicles can also be equipped with Car2X communication technology, which means that they can also receive information about the traffic as well as speed and route suggestions." This would open up new possibilities, says Link: "The ability of autonomous and conventional vehicles to communicate with the traffic infrastructure For example, the switching of traffic lights can be optimized. They would be constantly informed about the point in the road network at which vehicles are located and could react to this in a targeted manner. This then enables a reduction in waiting times at traffic lights. "

At the Heinz Nixdorf Institute of the University of Paderborn there are already ongoing projects that focus on optimizing road traffic, for example the “Pilot Project Castle Crossing”. Further information is available at: www.hni.uni-paderborn.de/rtm/forschung/fahrerassistentsysteme/pilotprojekt-schlosskreuzung/.

Back to overview