Wuxi / Ingolstadt

Out and about in the smart city

Audi is networking cars with cities – an important step toward autonomous driving. But how much time do we save in the city through autonomous cars, ride sharing and intelligent traffic management? Audi is testing this in various cities around the globe – including Wuxi and Ingolstadt.

03/14/2019 Copy: Jan Rentzow - Photos: AUDI AG, Getty Images, Inc.
Talking Business Reading Time: 5 min

Drivers are testing autonomous driving under laboratory conditions. This is how engineers and designers at Audi want to find out what people do in cars if they are not driving them.
Drivers are testing autonomous driving under laboratory conditions. This is how engineers and designers at Audi want to find out what people do in cars if they are not driving them.

Wuxi – China’s model metropolis for connected mobility

1.76 million cars and no traffic jams – how is that possible? Wuxi, a city of six million northwest of Shanghai, is being tested as a model city for autonomous driving: Cars communicate with traffic lights, electronic street signs and other road users via LTE mobile communication. The result is an unimpeded flow of traffic, which leads not only to greater efficiency, but also greater safety on the road.

Wuxi illustrates the connected driving of the future – a project that assumes cooperation between governmental institutions and entrepreneurial expertise. Audi and three Chinese ministries are on board: In China, progress is driven from the highest levels. When they talk about the partnership between institutions and companies, developers describe the willingness to develop autonomous innovations as “exceptional” and the speed at which data are coordinated early on as “decisive.”

Audi delivered the key technology in Wuxi – Audi Traffic Light Information. The technology used for this is called C-V2X (Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything). It is based on swarm data that are exchanged between road users and the infrastructure in real time. At the same time, the company is the first international car manufacturer to test Level 4 vehicles in the model city in real traffic situations.

By 2022, the Chinese government wants to equip 90 percent of its cities and motorways with V2X technology. As the Audi project in Wuxi shows, autonomously networked driving is the result of cooperation with agile cities that upgrade their infrastructures at the same pace as digital developments. There are cities like this outside China, too. Thanks to Audi Electronics Venture (AEV), its fully owned subsidiary and software powerhouse, Audi works together with cities all over the world that want to become smart and permanently improve people’s quality of life.

The test city of Wuxi: In the megacities of the future, traffic will flow because vehicles will interact with the infrastructure.
The test city of Wuxi: In the megacities of the future, traffic will flow because vehicles will interact with the infrastructure.

Time-to-green: Audi Traffic Light Information online

As the first car manufacturer to do so, Audi has been offering its customers in the USA its V2I traffic light information service with the time-to-green function in select cities since the end of 2016. Currently the service covers 5,000 traffic lights. If a car approaches one of 5,000 intersections in cities such as Dallas, Houston or the capital, Washington D.C., the Audi virtual cockpit or the head-up display will reveal whether the green phase can be reached within the speed limit. If this isn’t the case, a timer will begin to count down the time until the next green phase. This allows drivers to take their foot off the gas pedal in good time. Audi is working with project partner Traffic Technology Services TTS on Traffic Light Information. TTS processes the data of the traffic light computers and sends them via the mobile network to the Audi back end – from where they flow into the car. And the new Green Light Optimized Speed Advisory (GLOSA) function ensures even more security and comfort in street traffic. The “green wave assistant” predicts traffic-light phases and calculates the appropriate speed for passing as many green lights as possible.

The research project “25th Hour – Flow!” simulates future traffic flow in Ingolstadt

Ride Sharing

1.3

average number of persons per car

Time savings

1/3

reach destination faster in autonomous and connected rush-hour traffic

Traffic flow

40 %

of cars must drive autonomously before effects are visible

To make a noticeable difference in traffic, at least 40 percent of cars must drive autonomously – like the Audi Aicon concept car.
To make a noticeable difference in traffic, at least 40 percent of cars must drive autonomously – like the Audi Aicon concept car.

Ingolstadt: Research project simulates what traffic will be like in the future

What is being tested in Wuxi will turn Ingolstadt – where Audi has its headquarters – into a model city for intelligent and connected mobility. Road safety will improve, traffic will be controlled intelligently, mobility will become efficient and emissions will be permanently reduced. Much of this will also be achieved thanks to autonomous driving.

When cars no longer have steering wheels – such as the Audi Aicon concept car presented in 2017 – premium mobility will be redefined. In the future, people will be able to relax and surf the Internet, play with their children or concentrate on their work while traveling from A to B. What’s sure to please: arriving earlier. According to a study carried out by Audi and the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT), drivers spend 50 minutes in their cars every day. With fully autonomous traffic, commuting times could be reduced by a third. The condition? Clever traffic management and a slightly higher usage rate. If the value increases from 1.1 to 1.3 people per car, for example because of ride sharing, then there would no longer be traffic jams. Connected, automated and shared cars also make it possible for cities to redistribute street space: Every fourth lane could be turned into a pedestrian or bicycle path. The complete networking of vehicles with each other and with urban environments requires a common standard. Audi is actively involved as a founding member in the 5G Automotive Association to make this data transfer faster and more efficient in the future.

How are we getting traffic to flow?

Autonomous cars will help solve urban traffic problems over the long term. This is verified by the Audi study “25th Hour – Flow!” The time that commuters spend traveling to and from work will be reduced by one-third on average. That is, if all cars are autonomous. To make traffic flow more quickly at all, at least 40 percent of cars must be autonomous.

More about the Audi study “25th Hour – Flow!”

Study “25th Hour – Flow!”

13 pages, EN

PDF

8.1 MB

Making cities smart

  • The trend of urbanization will shape future mobility. Audi is cooperating with cities on various continents to improve the flow of traffic and ultimately the quality of life for all residents. Wuxi near Shanghai is a test area for these smart cities. Audi is the first foreign car manufacturer to test Level 4 vehicles in real traffic situations.
  • In Wuxi, Audi is providing Audi Traffic Light Information, a key technology allowing communication between cars and traffic lights. This service has already been available on the U.S. market since the end of 2016. Drivers see in the car whether they will reach the green traffic light connected to the service if they drive at the permitted speed. If this is not the case, the service counts down the time until the next green phase – this lets drivers know that they can take their foot off the accelerator pedal sooner.
  • In a smart city with autonomous mobility, commuters can travel approximately one-third faster during rush hour, according to the Audi study “25th Hour – Flow!”. This presupposes that the trend to share becomes established. A further condition is clever traffic management.
  • The Four Rings are a trendsetter for autonomous mobility. The Audi subsidiary company Autonomous Intelligent Driving GmbH is one of the companies working on this technology. The focus is on developing a system comprising hardware and software for enabling automated driving in urban areas. Its use is planned for robotaxis and, potentially, for autonomously driven private cars.

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