Automation and networking: the future of mobility is starting now

The expert organisation DEKRA is celebrating a special milestone for the safety of tomorrow's mobility in Klettwitz (Brandenburg): the new construction phase of the city courses was officially opened at the DEKRA Lausitzring.

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"Tomorrow's mobility with increasingly automated and networked vehicles thrives on the corresponding systems being put through their paces before they are approved," says Guido Kutschera, DEKRA Germany Head and Chairman of the Management Board of DEKRA Automobil GmbH. "That's exactly what we do here - with a unique variety of test tracks, with the expertise of our colleagues and with test methods at the very cutting edge of technical development."

  • Variable-use asphalt surfaces for a wide range of test scenarios
  • Goal for the future: test tracks with simulation of weather conditions
  • Further investments at the site are already planned

"Increasing road safety is a permanent task. Road traffic can be made safer through the use of assistance systems or automated vehicle technologies. However, the use of such technologies requires extensive testing. I am therefore pleased that the DEKRA Lausitzring will in future offer ideal conditions for the realistic testing of autonomous driving functions with the city courses," said Guido Beermann, Minister for Infrastructure and State Planning of the State of Brandenburg at the opening of the new construction phase. "In addition, jobs in a technology of the future will be created in the Lausitz structural transformation region. This not only strengthens Lusatia, it strengthens the whole of Brandenburg and the rest of Germany too."

Variable infrastructure enables highly complex test scenarios

On the previous spectator parking areas at the DEKRA Lausitzring, around 80,000 square metres of variable-use asphalt surfaces were installed for the city courses. The installation includes lanes, large areas, crossing areas and much more. Among other things, about 300 metres of tram tracks were also laid. With flexible markings, mobile infrastructure and, if necessary, simulated peripheral development, the most diverse scenarios of inner-city and, in some cases, inter-city traffic can now be represented. "In combination with highly modern test methods, we will in future be able to place vehicles in almost any complex situation in order to subject their automated driving functions to the maximum test challenge," explains Uwe Burckhardt, Head of Test and Event at the DEKRA Lausitzring. In so-called swarm tests, up to twelve moving objects are to be used in the environment of the test vehicle. They can represent a wide variety of other vehicles, but also pedestrians, and in future they can be controlled with centimetre precision. This means that the same test sequences can be reproduced again and again, so that systems and functions can be tested under the same conditions in each case.

"After the preparations and some decisions delayed by almost two years - especially due to the pandemic - we have now been able to complete the new facility in record time," says a delighted Erik Pellmann, head of the Technology Centre department at DEKRA Automobil GmbH. "Only about seven months have passed from the start of the preparatory construction measures to today's opening. All those involved at our company and with our partners deserve a huge compliment for this performance."

The concrete layout of the asphalt surfaces of the new city courses was planned by DEKRA in a joint working group with vehicle manufacturers, suppliers and research institutions. "Under the leadership of the Fraunhofer Institute for Transport and Infrastructure Systems in Dresden, we evaluated in detail the inner-city and suburban accident history in Germany from 2013 to 2019," says Burckhardt. "With the road geometries that our flexible city courses enable, more than 80 per cent of these real traffic scenarios can be reproduced in the test."

The DEKRA site in Klettwitz now offers a unique variety of test tracks that cover almost all the so-called "operational design domains" of automated driving - in other words, the environments for which automated driving functions will be designed in the future. "We also want to close the last gaps soon; corresponding plans for further test tracks are already underway," says site manager Pellmann. "Our goal is to be able to simulate specific weather conditions on certain routes."

Development of the site is far from being over

Even though five years after DEKRA took over the Lausitzring the scope of expansion announced at the time has now been completed: development at the site continues - even beyond inspection and test tracks. "We opened our DEKRA Technology Center here in Klettwitz almost exactly 20 years ago. Since then the site was developed massively," Guido Kutschera sums up. "Laboratories have been constantly expanded and adapted to meet requirements. New infrastructure has been added, as have new colleagues. Today we have more than 200 employees here in Klettwitz - and we are far from finished.

The DEKRA test centre for automotive and stationary battery systems is already in the planning stage. It is scheduled to be fully operational by the end of 2024 and means further investment in the two-digit million euro range.