Two new and interesting traffic experiments are set to be carried or are being discussed in and near Munich. The first experiment officially begins on Friday, July 8, 2016. The southern part of the Sendlinger Street in central Munich between the Herzog-Wilhelm Street and the Hermann-Sack-/Hacken Streets will be closed for motorised traffic and turned into a pedestrian zone. Cars won’t be allowed to neither drive, nor park in this section of the Sendlinger Street. The City of Munich will monitor the effects of the new pedestrian zone and decide on whether make this change in traffic permanent or return to the previous state within a year. The Singlspieler and the Schmid Street will also be part of the experiment. Cyclist will be allowed to use the pedestrian zone from 9pm until 9am, just as any of the other pedestrian zones of the city.
Besides the explained old school traffic experiment, there is something more high-tech planned for the university campus of the Technical University of Munich (TUM). If the German Innovation Lab (GIL) gets its way, the Garching campus of the Technical University of Munich (TUM) may become one of the first testing sites for autonomous vehicles within the next few years. Last Thursday representatives of GIL presented their plans to the Garching City Council.
While all German automobile manufacturers are working hard on increasingly intelligent automated driver assistance systems, the Google car has stolen the limelight in USA where it is already cruising the public roads without a driver. Cars of German manufacturers are also underway autonomously but only in restricted areas. On public roads in Germany, legal insurance technicalities require a driver on board who can take over in case of an emergency.
The German Innovation Lab considers the Research Campus Garching ideal as a test environment for a number of reasons. “First off, the property belongs to the State of Bavaria, meaning you are in control of the traffic regulations,” explains speaker Siegfried Balleis. “Second, the largest campus of TU Munich is located in Garching.” In addition, the proving grounds would be in direct proximity the A9 motorway. The German Ministry of Traffic designated the section of the A9 that runs between Munich and Ingolstadt as a test stretch for highly automated driving in 2015.
“Autonomous and automated driving, together with with drive systems, are the key challenge in road traffic technology. This is also a scientific topic because automated driving can only succeed against the backdrop of complex and reliable sensor and information systems,” says TUM president Wolfgang A. Hermann. “We are in a global competition for the best solutions and that is why it is high time that we tackle this topic. Our research campus in Garching has all the requisite competences.”
Self-driving vehicles are nothing new for the Garching campus. An autonomous Audi Q7 already made its rounds on the campus in the context of the DFG Collaborative Research Center “Cognitive Automobiles”. An alternative option is remote controlled driving, which elegantly circumvents the legal and insurance questions of autonomous driving. The Department of Automotive Technology headed by Professor Markus Lienkamp has been active in this field since 2009.
Even though the first driverless cars are already on the road, before autonomous vehicles become ready for the mass market a lot of research work remains to be done. Professor Markus Lienkamp, chair of the Department of Automotive Engineering openly greets the idea of establishing a testing arena on the Garching campus.