Sweden unveils advanced testing facility for self-driving vehicles
Swedish state-owned Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE), in partnership with Charmers University, is unveiling the AstaZero 5G test facility. This is intended to be a first step toward a completely new type of test environment that provides the data necessary to predict vehicle behavior in real-life situations without the need for on-the-road testing.
Established in 2014, AstaZero is a test facility dedicated to automated driving and active safety of ground vehicles. The combination of proving ground design and advanced real-time data analysis enables automated vehicle testing that was unthinkable a year ago. Engineers at the test facility in Gothenburg predict that it will speed up development 10-fold.
With its mixed-reality test environment, it can reportedly simulate virtually any traffic situation in any city on the planet. It is able to blend the virtual world (e.g., the iconic Arc de Triomphe traffic system in Paris or Time Square in New York) with real vehicles and real people stationed around the track. By using the latest in 5G connectivity and distributed cloud services, AstaZero is designed to mix test vehicles with virtual vehicles. This enables realistic and a completely new level of traffic complexity and real-world applications in the test loop, including theoretical traffic environments in which autonomous vehicles share roads and pavements alongside drones, cyclists, or pedestrians.
“The automotive industry clearly needs better, faster, and much more complex test facilities before new self-driving products can be safely tested on public roads. AstaZero is unveiling the world’s most advanced test environment with 5G speed and accuracy that can replicate real-world traffic complexity unlikely anything that’s been seen before,” said Peter Janvik, CEO of AstaZero.
AstaZero provides five different test environments: bike test area, city area, a multilane road, rural road, and a flexible high-speed area. Together, they form a comprehensive set of key environments for research and development of automated driving. To this, AstaZero is now adding Super Multilane with consumer testing and legal requirement capabilities. This is reportedly the only one of its kind in Europe and is claimed to be the most advanced in the world.
There is supposedly no data limit in the mixed-reality system due to the capacity of the 5G network, developed in partnership with WARA-CAT (Collaborative and Autonomous Transport), Ericsson, and PTS (Swedish Post and Telecom Authority). This also allows AstaZero to create complex tests with key partners in the automated vehicle ecosystem including telecom operators, end-user equipment developers, phone manufacturers, and third-party developers. This enables the creation of distorted environments in which huge amounts of airborne data traffic influence the effectiveness of connected and/or autonomous vehicles.
Sweden has implemented a strategy to make the country the preferred test location for advanced automated vehicle technology. Close collaboration with partners in the EU, U.S., China, Singapore, and South Korea has been strengthened following the signing of a memorandum of understanding on August 15, 2018, which sees its proving grounds committing to further data sharing moving forward.
The AstaZero facility also can be used for advanced testing of self-driving construction vehicles, an area where many believe self-driving technology will be implemented first. By using a high amount of remotely controlled vehicles combined with fully automated vehicles deep underground, humans can stay above ground and work safely.