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Driverless Safety Vehicles on Motorways

Motorway maintenance and road workers are sometimes exposed to high-risk working conditions. Safety vehicles with highly visible warning equipment are designed to minimise these risks. However, these vehicles are still often involved in serious rear-end collisions in motorway bottlenecks.

This has prompted MAN to join seven other partners from the fields of industry, research and administration to develop a prototype driverless safety vehicle that follows the machinery used in mobile roadworks, protecting them from moving traffic.

The ‘aFAS’ research project and the Federal Highway Research Institute (BASt) gave an interim presentation on 28th October, 2016. Two years have passed since the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) launched the project that focuses on the use of driverless automated vehicles in public traffic areas. The aim of the ‘aFAS’ project is to create an automated truck carrying appropriate warning signs that could be operated without a driver. The prototype is to be tested in Hessen, on motorway hard shoulders.

The driverless operation component of this initiative is said to present a significant challenge for the project partners, with particularly high demands being made with respect to the functional safety of the vehicle and the quality of the vehicle technology. The steering and braking systems, sensors, environment detection and control software components must meet strict criteria for safety-related systems in motor vehicles.

As far as is possible, series components are being used in the project for both the standard control system and the implementation of functional safety features. The environment is surveyed using close-to-production cameras and radar systems, including devices for detecting objects, lanes and open spaces. The sensor technology is supported by wireless transfer of relevant information between works vehicles and safety vehicles.

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