Driverless Test Drives in the Middle Kingdom

source: Audi AG

Greater safety, more comfort and better traffic flow: Audi used test vehicles to demonstrate automated driving on public roads with V2X signals. C-V2X and 5G technologies are used in production vehicles in China.

There is a lot of activity on the banks of Tai Hu, the third largest freshwater lake in China. Far more than six million people are concentrated in the up-and-coming metropolis of Wuxi between an 88 meter high Buddha statue, historical buildings and numerous specialty restaurants. Among experts, however, Wuxi is also a term for the IoT – the Internet of Things – and as a model city for smart cities. Here, Audi China is testing connected driving in conjunction with connected infrastructure. A few weeks ago, the four rings went one step further and sent a converted Audi Q8 onto the road. It was the world’s first demonstration of automated driving on a public road with V2X communication.

Milestone in terms of road safety

V2X stands for Vehicle to Everything. V2X communication enables vehicles to be directly networked with each other, with the infrastructure and with other participants in traffic. The functions are essential for highly and fully automated driving, especially in terms of road safety. For example, the vehicle brakes automatically in response to other vehicles and pedestrians who cannot see the driver. In addition, it automatically avoids approaching emergency vehicles and uses the vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) service “traffic light information”.

Tests in China “a unique opportunity”

“Audi has made a quantum leap forward with its IoV technologies (IoV = Internet of Vehicles). Here in China, we have a unique opportunity to test these technologies on the road and present them to the public,” said Michael Hofmann, Audi China Executive Vice President for Research and Development. “Not only are we testing Level 4 fully automated driving with V2X signals on a public road for the first time in the world, but we are also using IoV technology as an actual input to the vehicle’s autonomous driving system for the first time.”

Goal: fewer accidents on foot and by bike

At the “World Internet of Things Exposition 2021” in Wuxi, Audi also presented its patented V2I and V2P (Vehicle-to-Pedestrian) technologies, which are currently being tested, for the first time along a 6.5-kilometer route. Thanks to V2P, vehicles are able to brake to avoid colliding with concealed pedestrians. Experts assume that such accidents can be reduced thanks to technical progress. Another patented V2P technology from Audi warns, for example, of cyclists approaching the vehicle from behind. Accidental collisions when opening the doors can be avoided in this way.

V2I provides real-time information

In China, Audi also presented other V2I technologies that are currently being developed. Warnings of access restrictions enable drivers to intervene early to change course and thus relieve traffic. The warning of objects on the road is also V2I-based so that you can take evasive action in good time. The technology helps prevent accidents by providing the vehicle with real-time information about road conditions and safety.

5G-capable connectivity module in series use

New production models for the Chinese market such as the Audi A7 L and Audi A6 L will in future have a radio module on board that supports both 5G and C-V2X technology (C-V2X = cellular vehicle-to-everything). Other vehicles will follow. The functions include the Audi Traffic Light Information (TLI) system as well as the Audi Local Hazard Information (LHI) and Local Hazard Warning (LHW) functions.

New functions: ideal speed for the “green wave”

The Audi traffic light information consists of the Green Light Optimized Speed ​​Advisory (GLOSA) and Time-to-Green functions. The technologies enable a smoother ride and save energy because drivers have to brake and accelerate less. GLOSA also calculates the ideal speed to catch a “green wave” in the city. To avoid stop-and-go traffic, GLOSA suggests reducing speed around 250 meters before a traffic light in order to arrive at the intersection on green. If a stop at a red traffic light is unavoidable, the time-to-green function displays a countdown that shows the seconds remaining until the next green phase.