Germany is making the autobahn “digital” in order to test self-driving cars

At the beginning of this year, Germany announced that it approved testing self-driving cars on their Autobahn A9. However, as I mentioned in a previous article, it has been shown that approving autonomous vehicles on the roads is not enough.

These cars have to be connected somehow with each other, in order to “communicate”. That’s why the infrastructure is a big problem, which needs to be taken care of.

Germany makes the first step towards changing the infrastructure

Car manufacturers and companies that have come together to build self-driving cars need to understand that they have to work on the infrastructure too. Not them personally, but they need to talk to the government and explain to them the direction that they need to take.

Germany is the first country, as far as we know, to understand the problem of adjusting the infrastructure to the autonomous vehicles.

Alexander Dobrindt, the German Ministry of Transport, said that his plan of digitizing a portion of the Autobahn A9 is part of his project “Digital Testing Ground Autobahn”, which is going to take place this year.

A spokesperson of the minister said that by making the autobahn “digital”, self-driving cars will be able to communicate with each other, but with the street as well.

As you probably already know, autonomous vehicles need to be able to gather information from their surroundings. This type of information can be related to other cars, pedestrians, road lanes, stop signs, obstacles, and detect movement accurately enough, so that the car will be able to perform an emergency procedure if needed.

Germany, on its way to becoming a leader in the self-driving cars industry

Germany is stepping up the game, and with this project, the Ministry of Transport hopes that the German car industry will become a world leader in manufacturing digital cars.

Dobrindt also declared that they want to create their own self driving cars, and to not rely on Google, which is a leader in America in this industry.

Along with creating a digital autobahn, Dobrindt is open to investing large amounts of money in the Internet infrastructure, and the idea of bringing the Internet even to rural areas.

Germany’s plan has a good chance of succeeding, especially since they already proved that they have the resources to become a world leader in the autonomous car industry.

One of the most recent examples is the fact that Audi’s RS 7 driverless autonomous vehicle participated in a grand prix, back in October 2014, at Hockenheim. The car was able to drive itself a lap race at an impressive speed of 240km/h.

Also, German car manufacturers showcased some of their recent vehicles at CES 2015, including a self-driving Audi A7, which was sent on a drive from San Francisco to Las Vegas with any driver, a VW that is able to park itself, and the Mercedes Luxury In Motion prototype model, which is the most futuristic autonomous vehicle we’ve seen to date.

Will Germany be able to beat Google?

Even though it’s not a battle here, it’s clear that Germany knows what it wants. It’s only a matter of time until we see the results they’ll have after their testing on the digitized portion of the autobahn.

What do you think about Germany’s idea to digitize a portion of the Autobahn to test self-driving cars? Should more countries adopt a similar strategy?

Philipp Kandal