Traffic safety through connectivity. The mobility sector is currently grappling with challenges stemming from digital transformation, rising urbanization, automation, and the pressing need for energy conservation and climate action. The LUKAS research initiative, spanning three years, is a collaborative effort between Bosch, InMach, IT-Designers, Mercedes-Benz, Nokia, Ulm University, and the University of Duisburg-Essen.
Their goal? To enhance traffic safety and streamline operations in the evolving landscape of urban traffic. LUKAS, derived from its German title “Lokales Umfeldmodell für das kooperative, automatisierte Fahren in komplexen Verkehrssituationen”, translates to “local environment model for cooperative automated driving in intricate traffic conditions”.
Central to this project is the seamless communication between automated and traditional traffic entities, as well as the infrastructure. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK) has backed this project with a 5.2 million euros grant under its new vehicle and systems technology program.
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Harnessing Local Data for Enhanced Traffic Safety and Streamlined Traffic
The LUKAS initiative taps into the vast data reservoir of the local environment to bolster traffic safety and efficiency in mixed urban settings. This encompasses data from infrastructure sensors, interconnected vehicles, and mobile gadgets like smartphones wielded by pedestrians or cyclists.
Such a system offers anonymized data, detailing aspects like position, size, and potential speed and direction. This sensor data is swiftly transmitted to an edge server linked to the 5G network, ensuring minimal latency.
An advanced fusion algorithm on this server crafts a detailed model of the local environment, which then aids in strategizing maneuvers for connected traffic entities. This model offers road users insights into areas beyond their immediate perception.
“The edge server uses methods of artificial intelligence (AI), among others, to calculate an optimized, cooperative maneuver and then sends instructions to the connected participants. This approach makes it possible to increase the overall energy efficiency of a traffic scenario and the safety of traffic participants, especially those who are vulnerable” said Dr. Rüdiger Walter Henn, head of the LUKAS project at Bosch.
LUKAS’s Groundbreaking Test in Ulm-Lehr
The consortium chose a public space in Ulm-Lehr’s suburb for their pilot test, facilitated by the city of Ulm and managed by the University of Ulm. This location, featuring a junction obscured by buildings, presents a real-world traffic challenge. Dr. Michael Buchholz, leading the Electric Mobility and Connected Driving/Connected Infrastructure research teams at Ulm University, emphasized the value of this real-world testing.
Equipped with video, lidar, and radar sensors, the lampposts near the junction monitor the traffic flow. This data, transmitted via Nokia’s 5G network to the edge server, respects privacy norms by ensuring anonymity. The server houses the global environment model, multiple cooperative maneuver planning variations, and an alert system for pedestrians and cyclists.
The Power of Connectivity in Traffic
In showcasing cooperative scenarios in mixed traffic, Bosch, Mercedes-Benz, and the University of Ulm introduced connected, semi-automated cars. InMach showcased a connected street sweeper prototype. Specialized smartphone applications from IT-Designers GmbH and Nokia bridge the gap between pedestrians, cyclists, and the edge server.
IT-Designers leverages a video drone for traffic scenario simulations, with the University of Duisburg-Essen offering traffic flow simulations.
The LUKAS methodology’s trials underscored its potential to enhance traffic safety and efficiency. AI-driven planning algorithms hint at a notable uptick in traffic flow. Mercedes-Benz’s studies revealed marked fuel savings and reduced junction crossing times compared to traditional driving.
This technology ensures protection in obscured zones by regulating traffic, allowing for cooperative actions. With this innovative approach, road users can discern the safest and most efficient driving strategies.
The insights from the LUKAS project have enriched the consortium partners’ understanding of connected, cooperative driving, influencing the creation of innovative products. LUKAS’s approach promises a future where automated urban driving is safer and more efficient for everyone on the road.