Autonomous Driving: Research for Construction Sites

Autonomous driving is considered as the key technology for the next decade in the automobile sector. The Fraunhofer Institute explores technologies for construction sites.

The Fraunhofer Institute explores a technology that shall allow autonomous driving in complex situations on motorways. Picture: Fraunhofer Institute

Almost every manufacturer of automobiles does research on that scenario, some brands already have implemented the technology as a series application. Autonomous driving shall increase safety in traffic and disburden drivers. However, the technology has its drawbacks. Humans are still much better in reacting to complex situations in road traffic.

On standard routes like motorways without oncoming or crossing traffic and with broad, clearly marked traffic lanes, the technology is already able to reliably and safely steer a car. The next step is to make uncommon or non-normed traffic situations “machine-readable”. One example for such complex situations are construction sites on motorways. Narrowed traffic lanes, changing route guidance, tight curves and diversions to the opposite lane drive the actual systems for autonomous driving to their limit.

Construction sites are complex

The Fraunhofer Institute is developing a system, which shall optimally find its way in such situations. There are numerous factors to consider – superimposed lane markings impede the orientation of the camera-based system, insecure drivers react unpredictably and changing speed limits have to be respected. Stefan Eickeler, responsible at Fraunhofer Institute for object recognition explains: “Our technology enables the system to read traffic signs with a high degree of accuracy.”

Like this, complex control systems in collaboration with the navigation system of the car are able to recognize altered exits at construction sites correctly, to optimally measure the distance between cars and to choose the right speed. “Assisted driving may soon lead to more relaxation and safety and shall work automatically on the long run: automated vehicles will then react autonomously”, explains Eickeler. The Fraunhofer Institute presents its results at this year’s CeBIT in Hannover.

Read more: German government decides legal basis for autonomous driving


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