Using a tablet to access the lifting platform, Porsche is testing autonomous driving in the company’s own workshop. The test project is part of a collaboration for the Startup Autobahn innovation platform and is scheduled for completion in mid-2019. 

The project involves Porsche working with startup Kopernikus Automotive to install a test field on the company’s premises in Ludwigsburg. The company from Berlin specializes in technology for self-driven cars, and the aim of the joint project is to enable vehicles to drive from their parking space to the lifting platform and back again, fully autonomously. The goal is for mechanics to be able to maneuver cars to the correct position in the workshop, quickly and automatically, using a tablet. 

“Autonomous driving will revolutionize our road traffic in just a few years. However, we can already use the technological possibilities available today to make work processes even more effective and efficient,” said Alexander Haas, Project Manager for Automated Driving at the Porsche workshop. The project will be implemented within 100 days. 

Before the vehicles are autonomously driven into the workshop, the first step is to create the test site, including workshop environment, as a virtual representation, which is used to train an artificial neural network. It drives more than one million virtual test kilometers and learns independently on the basis of real framework data. Finally, the use case is tested under real conditions. “Our team will experience the use of autonomous driving in the workshop in test operation, and we want to learn from the team’s feedback,” said Thomas Eckert, head of Product Influencing in Aftersales. 

The intention is that AI technology will then not only handle vehicle orientation, but also independently identify and localize objects, and plan paths. Measures will be implemented to guarantee safety in the practical implementation stage of the test run, including a speed limit of 7 km/h (4 mph) and the additional use of a human driver. 

Porsche has been a partner in the Startup Autobahn innovation platform since 2017, with the aim of bringing innovative startups from all over the world to Stuttgart with their ideas. Several companies have joined, including Daimler, the University of Stuttgart, Arena 2036, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, DXC Technology, ZF Friedrichshafen, and BASF. Under the umbrella of Startup Autobahn, they collaborate with startups in specific pilot projects that run over a period of 100 days. Porsche has implemented around 50 projects as part of Startup Autobahn over the past two years, and about one-third of results have been incorporated into the series development process.