Karlsruhe Plans to Become Pioneer Region for Autonomous Driving

Karlsruhe seeks to play a leading role in connecting mobility and digitalisation. Under the leadership of the FZI Research Center for Information Technology, a consortium composed of the City of Karlsruhe, the Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences, the City of Bruchsal, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), and the Fraunhofer Institute of Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation (IOSB), has applied for the funding of the Federal State Baden-Württemberg in order to create a regional test track with a link to Heilbronn and Stuttgart. This test track is the ideal environment for companies and research institutions to test future-oriented technologies and services related to networked and automated driving in everyday road traffic. The Karlsruhe Municipal Council and the partners have agreed on the necessary own funding share for the project with the total amount of 4.6 million euros. 

Karlsruhe, 02.08.2016 – "The symbiosis of mobility and information technology promises solutions for social challenges and will provide entirely new possibilities for mobility concepts", says Professor Dr.-Ing. Holger Hanselka, President of KIT. "In the test area, KIT essentially contributes to the interlinking of research and application as well as of the automotive and ICT sectors." 

"Digitalisation offers many chances to increase the eco-friendliness of mobility and to make it faster and safer. This is essential for the future of our cities. We want to contribute to find clever solutions", says Dr. Frank Mentrup, Mayor of Karlsruhe. "The request is already a success for the region of Karlsruhe, as six partners have organised a challenging project within a short period of time." 

"The TechnologieRegion Karlsruhe has excellent requirements for a test area for interconnected and automated driving: There is not only great ICT competence – both in research and in economy – but there are also strong providers of mobility services as well as technology providers related to mobility, who want to be involved into the development", says Professor Dr.-Ing. J. Marius Zöllner, Executive Director of the FZI Research Center for Information Technology and professor at KIT. "We want to share our experience from over 30 years of interdisciplinary research on autonomous systems and promote the Karlsruhe test area together with our partners." 

"The social challenges in mobility need a strong knowledge transfer from basic research to application", points out Professor Dr.-Ing. Eric Sax, Head of the KIT Institute for Information Processing Technology and Scientific Director of the FZI. "In Karlsruhe, we have enough companies and research institutes both from information technology and mobility to develop innovative technologies, services and applications connected by a test field."

"Autonomous driving will move our society spatially, technically and socially. In the joint test area, we benefit from the scientific and economic location Karlsruhe and we will further shape it through the development of concepts for the mobility of the future", says Professor Dr.-Ing. habil. Jürgen Beyerer, Director of the Fraunhofer Institute of Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation (IOSB). "Especially with our know-how in the field of productive image evaluation systems, we want to contribute to the success of the project."

"The development of highly automated and autonomous vehicles will open up new chances to significantly increase road safety and quality in the future. They can contribute to reduce environmental impairments caused by traffic", states Professor Dr. Christian Holldorb from the Institute for Transport Planning and Infrastructure of Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences. "For this purpose, it is necessary to systematically analyse the interrelations between road infrastructure and road environment. This is what the test area is the ideal framework for." 

Effective testing of solutions

Vehicle systems for automated and connected driving can be tested under real traffic conditions in the test area. Applications for future mobility such as automated driving of cars, buses or commercial vehicles, street cleaning or delivery services for instance, can be evaluated. Furthermore, this is an opportunity to update the regulatory and legal conditions. The creation of a test area will make it possible to effectively test technological solutions in the context of digitalisation of mobility, such as smart additional services or data protection. Especially small and medium-sized enterprises will benefit from the freely accessible test area and the establishment of branches of mobility and ICT firms will be fostered.

With the requested funds, various kinds of traffic areas are planned to be prepared for automated and linked driving. Therefore, highly precise 3D maps will be generated and sensors for the real-time acquisition of traffic and its influencing factors will be installed. Then, the data will be processed and made available to the users of the test area. Furthermore, the users will be given information about traffic light phases and bus, city and tram traffic flows. Radio paths and, in the long term, new telecommunication technologies are to be installed in order to ensure a robust data transmission from and to the vehicles.

The tracks of the test area will be composed of all relevant road types from mixed vehicle, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic in urban areas, to intra-urban 30 km/h and 50 km/h zones, municipal car parks, residential areas, and state roads and federal highways, up to motorway sections. The planned test zones and tracks comprise the three campuses of KIT, the Karlsruhe district of Oststadt, the central railway station and southern districts, connecting roads as well as motorway sections to Stuttgart and Heilbronn. The Bruchsal research campus as well as test areas for automated logistics and commercial vehicles in Bruchsal and Heilbronn will be connected to the test area as well.

Existing road infrastructures are planned to be used in the test area. There will be no changes or constraints for traffic participants or residents who are not involved in the test modes. The only possibly visible changes will be transmitting antennas that are to be installed for WLAN and mobile communication as well as sensors that collect only non-personal data. The test mode will be coordinated and supervised from a control point. The test vehicles are equipped with a complex safety technology and according to the current guidelines, a driver will always be in the vehicle during the trials for safety reasons. Furthermore, residents can monitor the condition and equipment of the test areas and tracks via an internet portal that is to be created. The portal also provides easy access to exemplary measurement data.

Realising sustainable mobility

The City Council of Karlsruhe is providing 190,000 euros for the project to become a pioneer region for autonomous driving. The Council has agreed to the request on April 26, 2016. These resources are supposed to help building up traffic light systems and the WLAN system for Karlsruhe called KA-WLAN that are needed for the operation of the test area. Furthermore, the city of Karlsruhe has agreed on giving authorisation for all necessary traffic law regulations. The Karlsruhe Transport Authority (KVV) is supposed to undertake the tasks of the test area operating company. In addition to that, the Karlsruhe Transport Company (VBK) seeks to use a possible test field for research purposes. The plan is to test autonomous electrical mini omnibuses. The city of Karlsruhe wants to contribute to build up sustainable mobility – not least with regard to the environment and for the benefit of mobility-impaired people.

The city of Bruchsal, a town near Karlsruhe, will be a partner of the consortium in order to support the project by measuring and expanding the test tracks. Furthermore, the regional companies Energie- und Wasserversorgung Bruchsal GmbH and Regionale Wirtschaftsförderung Bruchsal GmbH whose shareholder is Bruchsal, have shown interest in cooperating with Karlsruhe. Also located in Bruchsal is the Institute of Energy-efficient Mobility (IEEM) of Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences. It is equipped with a high-performance test bench where cars can be waited. The area of the former barrack Dragonerkaserne is also supposed to be implemented into the test area. In the upcoming years, the innovation centre efeuCampus which is unique in Europe, is to be developed. The city of Bruchsal, SEW-EURODRIVE, Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences, KIT, the FZI, and further partners have successfully applied for subsidies of the State and the EU. Furthermore, the track of the test area will pass by the technology village Bruchsal where various companies have been dealing with the analysis and control of autonomous vehicles for years.

The region of Karlsruhe is characterised by the collaboration of actors of information technology and mobility in various networks, for instance in the CyberForum, the TechnologieRegion Karlsruhe, the Technology Park Karlsruhe, the Profilregion Mobilitätssysteme Karlsruhe, the Tech Center a-drive, the project house e-drive, RegioMove as well as the cluster Electric Mobility South-West. This unique test area could help stabilise and substantially reinforce the common technological development of regional and supra-regional partners from information technology and mobility.

he consortium is composed of the City of Karlsruhe, the FZI Research Center for Information Technology Karlsruhe, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), the Fraunhofer Institute of Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation (IOSB), and the City of Bruchsal as well as further associated partners. They apply for the subsidies of the Federal State of Baden-Württemberg for the “creation of a test area for connected and automated driving“. The consortium wants to contribute 1.1 million euros of own funds to the project. Associated partners and industrial partners contribute over 1 million euros.

The Ministry of Finance and Economy Baden-Württemberg contributes 2.5 million euros for the conception, planning and development of the test area for the consortium that is awarded the project. The development of the test area begins in 2016, its operation begins in 2017. The project is supposed to create a test area for autonomous driving in Baden-Württemberg that is technology-open and independent of individual companies.

Press photos of the press conference on April 28:  and 

About FZI Research Center for Information Technology

The FZI Research Center for Information Technology at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology is a non-profit institution for applied research in information technology and technology transfer. Its task is to provide businesses and public institutions with the latest research findings in information technology. It also qualifies young researchers for their career in academics or business as well as self-employment. Led by professors from different faculties, research teams at the FZI interdisciplinary develop and prototype concepts, software, hardware and system solutions for their clients.  
Learn more at

About KIT

KIT – The Research University in the Helmholtz Association: The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) has three core tasks of research, teaching and innovation. With about 9,300 employees and 25,000 students, KIT is one of the great European institutions for research and teaching in the fields of natural sciences and engineering.
Learn more about the KIT Mobility Systems Center at 

About the Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences

With approximately 8,650 students, the Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences is not only one of the largest, but also one of the most research-oriented universities for applied sciences in Baden-Württemberg. “Energy efficiency and mobility” is one of three central research focuses that is covered across faculties and courses at the University as well as in various research institutions such as the Institut für Verkehrsplanung und Infrastrukturmanagement (Institute for Transport Studies and Infrastructure Management) and the Institute of Energy-efficient Mobility (IEEM) at Bruchsal research campus.

About the Fraunhofer Institute of Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation (IOSB)

With approximately 350 scientists and engineers, the Fraunhofer IOSB is the largest European institute for image and video evaluation, pattern detection and situation recognition. Automation of complex processes is another important R&D topic: IOSB has designed, developed and delivered pioneering contributions including measurement and regulation technology, embedded systems, and guidance and manufacturing systems. These systems are used whenever information needs to be processed faster and more accurately than humans could achieve.

Further Information

FZI Research Center for Information Technology 
Johanna Haes 
Phone: +49 721 9654-904 

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) 
Monika Landgraf 
Phone: +49 721 608-47414 

City of Karlsruhe 
Bernd Wnuck 
Phone: +49 721 133-1300 

Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences 
Holger Gust  
Phone: +49 721 925-1016 

City of Bruchsal 
Bernd Killinger 
Phone: +49 7251 79-154 

Fraunhofer Institute of Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation (IOSB) Thomas Casper 
Phone: +49 7216091-300