autoELF on the home straight TU Braunschweig installs interior and safety functions in autonomous research vehicle
In March 2023, the autonomously driving research vehicle autoELF will leave Braunschweig for Darmstadt where final tests will be carried out before its presentation. At Technische Universität Braunschweig, the prototype was lined inside for use as a family car and equipped with important functions, including user interfaces, a remote control and a radio emergency stop system. All four vehicles developed in the UNICARagil project will be demonstrated at a test site near Aachen on 11 May 2023.
In the UNICARagil project, the Institute for Control Engineering at TU Braunschweig is responsible for the use case of the autonomous family vehicle autoELF. The scientists are developing a vehicle concept that can be used by a multi-generational family in everyday life. “Since the delivery of the vehicle in Braunschweig in mid-October 2022, we have equipped the prototype with a complete interior. In addition to trim elements and the seating system, we have installed elements for information input and output in the vehicle,” says Tobias Schräder, research associate at the Institute for Control Engineering.
In order to meet the different needs of different user generations, a total of three user interfaces were realised: A standard user interface, one for children and one for older people. In addition, the vehicle entrance was equipped with a lift to enable people with walking disabilities to enter the vehicle without additional human assistance.
“Furthermore, we have installed a radio emergency stop system and a system for remote control of the vehicle in the past few months. In its final stage of development, the vehicle interior itself does not have any operating elements with which the vehicle can be controlled,” says Tobias Schräder. With the radio emergency transmitter, a UNICAR vehicle can be stopped from the outside in an emergency.
Human subject research – use by children
Together with the research group for Engineering and Traffic Psychology, human subject research was carried out with the vehicle in January and February 2023. The aim was, for example, to find out how well the vehicle can be used by children and under what circumstances parents would let their children drive autoELF alone.
The next step
After the vehicle has been transferred to TU Darmstadt, driving functions will be tested there and the final event will be prepared. The final event will take place on 11 May 2023 near Aachen at the Aldenhoven Testing Centre. During this event, all four vehicles developed in the project will be demonstrated on a test site.
The project (1 February 2018 to 31 May 2023) is supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as part of the funding priority “Disruptive Fahrzeugkonzepte für die autonome elektrische Mobilität” (Auto-Dis). The project volume is 32 million euros. Members of the consortium are: RWTH Aachen, TU Braunschweig, TU Darmstadt, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, TU Munich, University of Stuttgart, University of Passau and University of Ulm as well as the following industrial partners ATLATEC GmbH, flyXdrive GmbH, iMAR Navigation GmbH, IPG Automotive GmbH, Schaeffler Technologies AG & Co. KG and VIRES Simulationstechnologie GmbH.
In the follow-up project AUTOtech.agil, which started in 2023, an open software and hardware architecture will be created for the mobility system of the future. The two Institutes for Control Engineering and for Computer and Network Engineering of TU Braunschweig are involved in the joint project, which is coordinated by RWTH Aachen University.