The main motivation for deploying new systems in road vehicles and infrastructure is to increase the safety of road transport systems, their comfort, and also their efficiency by reducing energy demands, travel time, or traffic congestion. To fulfil such objectives, the Cooperative, Connected and Automated Mobility (CCAM) ecosystem brings high demands on the overall orchestration of all actors, from environmental perception up to decision layers. The vehicles, as well as the infrastructure, can be equipped with powerful sensors to acquire information about the actual status of the environment consisting of a couple of levels from road geometry up to moving objects as defined. The data processing to understand the sensor data, the so-called environmental perception, can be performed in different locations depending on the system architectures, e.g., directly nearby the sensors or in some nodes processing the raw data from more sensor locations. Finally, the data is fused on a global level at a backend and should contribute to an online digital twin of the traffic environment. Independent of the architecture, the low-latency bi-directional communication of vehicles with the infrastructure is essential for effectively integrating vehicles with the infrastructure. However, a proper testing environment covering all the features from the open vehicle to the backend is not a usual case. This is the reason why the Test Field First Mile Ingolstadt, with infrastructure-based sensor systems, roadside units with vehicle-to-X communication features, and a powerful backend, is under continuous development. The vehicles still play an important role in the whole environment. In order to extend the test field with vehicles, an open research platform for CCAM called ANTON has been integrated into the Test Field First Mile. Since the Test Field First Mile Ingolstadt uses a public road network, an essential feature is the approval for public roads. The paper presents a concept and implementation of the open research platform and its integration into the test field. The platform is based on a production vehicle category L7e Renault Twizy, popular among researchers because of its compact and simple design. To implement the automatic driving features, the vehicle should offer electronic access to lateral and longitudinal vehicle dynamics, i.e., steering, braking, and acceleration, in other words, to the Drive-by-Wire system. Since the selected vehicle does not offer these features, they had to be implemented. The British company StreetDrone took care of the basic vehicle modifications, including the Drive-by-Wire system and a new car body, which can accommodate the necessary electronic equipment. Despite the products of Street Drone are based on their ROS-based automated driving stack ASLAN, the development of ANTON was focused on implementing the open-source automated driving stack Autoware.ai, which is also ROS based. Vehicle sensors such as GNSS, mono and stereo cameras, radar, lidar, v2x communication and soon ultrasonic sensors are integrated into the vehicle environment. The modular architecture of Autoware allows focusing on certain blocks, environmental perception, or trajectory planners. The vehicle was also integrated into the Test Field First Mile Ingolstadt's communication system to share vehicle-related information with the Test Field. It results in a holistic environment for developing and testing CCAM Functions. In parallel, a digital twin of ANTON has been developed as a combination of CARLA, Autoware, and ROS packages. The digital twin allows testing algorithms before their implementation in the real vehicle and will be interconnected with the digital twin of the Test Field in the near future. Finally, the vehicle was extensively tested by a technical service organization and modified in order to increase its safety. The objective of the tests was to prepare protocols for the authority to approve the vehicle for the public roads. The current vehicle concept offers just partial redundancy of the automated driving system. It results in the necessity to operate the vehicle with a safety driver on public roads.
Prof. Ondřej Vaculín, Professor, Technische Hochschule Ingolstadt