BMW: Autonomous Driving and Connected Mobility for Intelligent Traffic

From Autonomous Vehicle & ADAS Japan 2017



  In May 2017 the "Autonomous Vehicle & ADAS Japan 2017" exposition was held in Tokyo. This report covers a speech titled "Automated and Connected Mobility for Intelligent Traffic Management," given by Mr. Lutz Rothhardt, Development Japan Director, BMW Japan Corp. at the conference.

  The presentation laid out BMW's plans to solve issues of urban mobility including air pollution and traffic congestion with autonomous vehicles and connected mobility.

  In the first half of the speech, Mr. Rothhardt introduced two "Smart City" projects that BMW is participating in. The first project is the company's "Connected Mobility Lab" in Bayern, Germany. It was established with the aim to build an open platform and provide an efficient and comprehensive mobility service that covers public transportation, vehicles, and parking systems.

  The second is the "bIoTope (Building an IoT Open Innovation Ecosystem for Connected Smart Objects)" Project, which was sponsored by the EU with the aim of creating an environmentally friendly, safe, and pleasant city of the future. Although many systems that correspond with this goal are already online, these are isolated from each other like "vertical silos," and run within their respective applications. The aim of this project is to connect the vertical silos horizontally in order to build a more comprehensive "System of Systems" platform.

  Mr. Rothhardt also introduced "Traffic Management 2.0," which is being implemented in Germany with BMW's involvement. A task force is examining how traffic management authorities of municipal governments and service providers like TOMTOM can cooperate in order to provide optimal route information.

  Finally, even with the promulgation of efficient systems like this, it was pointed out that, with human drivers each trying to arrive at their individual destinations in the shortest time possible, the efficiency of the transportation system as a whole could worsen. Autonomous vehicles that will be realized in the near future will become assistants "able to think on their own" rather than only performing autonomous driving. Having vehicles that understand surrounding conditions and the purposes passengers are using them for will enable the overall optimization of traffic flows.

  BMW stated that the company will realize Intelligent Traffic Management through the integration of the above two projects with Traffic Management 2.0 and autonomous driving systems.

Automated and Connected
Mobility for Intelligent Traffic Management Tackling issues of urban
mobility with Intelligent Solutions
Automated and Connected Mobility for Intelligent Traffic Management (Title of speech)
(Source: BMW)
Tackling issues of urban mobility with Intelligent Solutions
(Source: BMW)

Related Reports:
Two autonomous driving trends: Level 3 for highways and Level 4 for public road (July 2017)
BMW's Car Sharing Service: Planning expansion to 10 cities, starting with 3 U.S. cities in 2016 (December 2016)

Connected Mobility Lab launched in Bayern, Germany

  The Connected Mobility Lab in Munich is a project being spearheaded by the state government of Bayern, Germany, BMW, Siemens (headquarters of both companies are located in Munich, Bayern), and the Technical University of Munich. The leading navigation company HERE and TOMTOM are also participating. The Connected Mobility Lab is also partnered with Stockholm City which is advocating for smart cities.

  Mobility Services organically connect all transportation systems, such as automobiles (including parking systems), motorcycles, bicycles, buses, and railways. Therefore, extensive data including route information, vehicle information, maps, public transportation systems, car sharing, and parking lots must be processed. In addition to the above, functions for making payments, travel, and shopping are also included.

  All the information is communicated via smart phone. BMW, Siemens, and HERE are providing the system. The most suitable means of transportation can also be selected by smart phone.

  The Connected Mobility Lab is a concept to create the foundation of future mobility through the construction of a comprehensive Mobility Ecosystem. The lab has made "From Connected Vehicles Towards Integrated Mobility and Transport" their motto.

The structure of the
Connected Mobility Lab A smart phone system that
supports the Connected Mobility Lab
The structure of the Connected Mobility Lab, which seamlessly connects all transportation related functions
(Source: BMW)
A smart phone system that supports the Connected Mobility Lab
(Source: BMW)

Examples of Integrated City Mobility

Indoors   Allows users to confirm their current location in large buildings such as hotels and navigate to venues they want to go to.
Intermodal travelers   Provides guidance for mobility options (railways, buses, taxis, car sharing and bicycles) in the areas a customer is in while taking their preferences into consideration.
  Establishes an environment for free competition by enhancing traffic restrictions. (Currently Uber is prohibited from operating in Germany.) Ride sharing and call buses will also be considered.
Parking systems   Builds an Intermodal parking (park & ride) system (drive a car to an airport or terminal station, park the car in a parking lot, and change to the next transportation system).
  Promotes installation of automatic parking systems (for households and large facilities).
(Note) The project seamlessly connects the above functions to, for example, provide mobility from the BMW campus in Garching to the Siemens campus in Neuperlach Sud.

bIoTope project aims to improve life in the city

  bIoTope is an abbreviation of "Building an IoT open innovation ecosystem for connected smart objects." It is a Smart City project being implemented by the E.U. aimed at creating an environmentally friendly, safe, and pleasant city of tomorrow. The plan is to increase greenery using space currently occupied by vehicles.

  This project is being conducted as a part of the E.U.'s Horizon 2020 Program. Over the 7 years from 2014 to 2020, EUR 80 billion (JPY 11 trillion) will be invested to carry out investigations and research for promoting efficient and sustainable growth and job development in Europe.

  The members of the project include 8 EU countries such as Germany, France, and Italy, as well as Australia and Russia, and about 20 other research institutions and universities as shown in the image on the lower left (currently, BMW is the only automobile manufacturer involved).

  This project will take full advantage of IoT technologies to proceed as its name suggests. Mr. Lutz Rothhardt presented the image on the lower right as the positioning of the bIoTope project. The actual vehicle ("real world") in the image on the left is converted into digital data, and is sent to the "cyber-world" in the image on the right as a digital copy. The results, which are analyzed using big data, show how data is fed back to the real world.

The organizational
structure of bIoTope Positioning of bIoTope
The organizational structure of bIoTope
(Source: Forum Virium Helsinki)
Positioning of bIoTope project: The actual vehicle (real world) on the left is sent to the cyber-world on the right and analyzed with big data.
(Source: BMW)

Building a System of Systems

  Many systems are already operating in line with the aims of the bIoTope project. However, they are isolated like vertical silos that are only operating within individual applications and lack interoperability (this allows the operation of different types of devices and systems together), and openness. The aim of bIoTope is to connect the vertical silos horizontally in order to build a more comprehensive "System of Systems" platform.

  For this reason, the bIoTope project supplies a standardized open application programming interface (API: an interface specification used for the mutual exchange of information between software. For example, the API is used even when Google map is used to find restaurant address information.) The API allows users to utilize all the services from one portal (without changing providers). It also allows each of the system related companies to develop new IoT systems and platforms at a minimum investment in order to participate in the business. ("Vertical silo" like systems will continue to be operated independently, and the information will be stored in the individual systems).

  The concepts of smart grids, smart cities, and IoT have spread, and the individual systems they consist of were developed separately. A System of Systems approach is thought to have come into being because the provision of an overall integrated service was an issue.

Ongoing research and pilot projects in Brussels-Capital Region and Helsinki

  Currently, research and pilot projects are progressing in the Brussels-Capital Region of Belgium, Helsinki, Finland and Grand Lyon, France. A total of EUR 575,000 has been invested in three projects in the Brussels-Capital Region.

  Moreover, a plan for EV charging stations in Finland is aimed at improving the installation of stations, which are currently being set up sporadically by a number of charging companies. This will make it easier for EV users to confirm the location of charging stations. The use of an API also will enable the development of a System of Systems.

Three projects in the Brussels-Capital Region

Ensuring safety in the vicinity of schools   Wi-Fi networks, smart phones, and other devices are being used to understand traffic flows and improve traffic safety in the vicinity of schools.
Promoting safe cycling and saving cyclists time   Sensors are being installed on cycling tracks to collect data on bicycle riders and encourage safe riding as well as reduced commute times.
Improving the circulation of emergency vehicles   Smart data is being utilized to improve the efficiency of emergency vehicles of fire trucks and ambulances by guiding them to uncongested routes.

EV charging system project in Helsinki

Current condition   Currently, two leading companies and several small to medium size firms are operating EV charging stations in Finland, with each company is operating their own charging poles, authentication, and payment systems. In many cases, each charging company requests users register in their own system before using the station, and also charge them for it.
  Since EV manufacturers do not know the location of all charging stations, drivers can only get limited information (location and operating calendar) with on-board systems. As a result, there are less than 3,000 EVs in Finland (the goal is for there to be 250,000 by 2030).
  In Northern Europe, there are already facilities for pre-heating cars during the winter, and these can be converted to charging stations with minor modifications (or without modifications). This is also contributing to the situation noted above where EV manufacturers do not have a complete knowledge of the location of charging stations.
Direction of innovation   The bIoTope project enables the building of an open platform that all charging companies can participate in with an API. This will allow EV drivers to access station information for a wider area and utilize the stations without concluding a new agreement or registering. Reducing concerns over range will also lead to increased sales of EVs.

Integrating bIoTope, traffic management, and autonomous driving to achieve intelligent traffic

  The bIoTope project, which is being promoted by the E.U. with the participation of BMW, is outlined above.

  BMW is also promoting "Traffic Management 2.0" with TOMTOM and other providers. As a conclusion of his speech, Mr. Rothhartdt mentioned that the company is aiming for "Intelligent Traffic Management" through the integration of all these projects, as they are expecting autonomous driving to be realized in the near future.

Traffic Management 2.0

  The Traffic Management 2.0 project was started upon receiving the approval of ERTICO - ITS Europe in 2014 and is being led by leading map navigation provider TOMTOM.

  The aim of this project is to realize efficient traffic management by coordinating traffic managers (traffic policy authorities), providers of mobility services like navigation, and vehicles on the road.

  As a part of this project, the LENA4ITS project is being carried out by the state capital of Frankfurt am Main, city traffic authorities, BMW and TOMTOM in the state of Hesse, Germany. Based on the conclusion that traffic managers and service providers like TOMTOM are not always cooperating closely enough, means to reflect the strategies of the authorities (overall city traffic strategy, in detail, the time allocation of red, green, yellow signals) in services were considered. The degree of cooperation was divided into four levels to provide comprehensive route information in consideration of the capacity and capability of roads.

Traffic Management 2.0
Traffic Management 2.0 - Cooperation between traffic managers and service providers (LENA4ITS)

Development of cooperation levels between traffic managers and service providers (LENA4 ITS Project)

Level 0   Limited to data exchange
Level 1   Traffic managers create traffic strategies, and present them to service providers. Service providers evaluate the strategies according to the road conditions, and make a decision on whether to send information to vehicles (whether to send information is up to the provider).
Level 2   The traffic strategy must be displayed in the vehicle on the road via a provider (service providers are obligated to send this strategy). It is up to the driver whether to actually follow it on the road.
Level 3   Compliance with the strategy and regulations of the authorities is mandatory. Particularly, when a major accident occurs.
Level 4   The Service provider selects the route and sends it to the vehicle in comprehensive consideration of the capacity of each road, traffic conditions, and bottleneck conditions based on the traffic strategy of the authorities.
(Note) Although the detailed examination results have not yet been obtained in level 4, it is the long term goal of "Traffic Management 2.0."

Braess's Paradox

  Currently, traffic congestion is occurring because vehicles are driven by people. For example, assume that there are two different routes to get from point A to point B. When a shortcut is provided at a halfway point that connects two different routes that will reduce driving time if there is no traffic, most drivers will take the shortcut assuming that other drivers will not. However, most drivers actually take the same shortcut, which may result in the shortcut taking more time. This is the paradox. It has been reported that the transit time between A and B was reduced, as a result of actually closing a shortcut.

  As mentioned, what's best for each driver, and what's best for the overall traffic flow is different. The reason why traffic congestion is currently occurring in many large cities around the world is because the overall traffic flow is not optimized.

  72% of the drivers in Germany choose their driving routes from radio information, and 79% from navigation. Moreover, since information with the same content is sent to all vehicles, it promotes the confusion mentioned above. Thus, if each driver tries to choose a route that is only advantageous for them, the overall efficiency of the traffic system may deteriorate.

Aiming for Intelligent Traffic Management with autonomous driving

  According to Mr. Rothhardt, the introduction of autonomous driving is an opportunity to realize Intelligent Traffic Management in most cities.

  In many cases, the overall traffic flow can be optimized if some vehicles take a roundabout way. Autonomous vehicles are able to recognize which way is the most suitable for the vehicle (individual vehicles). Therefore, vehicles that are not in a hurry are able to take a roundabout way (for example, there is a difference if a vehicle is going to a hospital or on a pleasure trip). Although it is not the best for some vehicles, this is generally a "fair" method, which realizes an efficient traffic flow far better than the current system.

  It is conceivable that autonomous driving will not only carry out mobility operations, but can also think on its own and has great potential other than the optimization of traffic mentioned above.

(Reference) C-ART Project of the European Commission

  There is a plan called "The r-evolution of driving: From Connected Vehicles to Coordinated Automated Road Transport (C-ART)" that was created by the European Commission (policy executive organ of the EU). This concept is based on the assumed realization of level 4 and level 5 autonomous vehicles and V2X (mainly V2I). The ultimate goal is to realize sufficient safety and efficiency in the short-to-mid term (2020 to 2030), and mid-to-long term (2030 to 2050). Although a definite period was not indicated in this announcement from BMW, the company's idea seems to have much in common with the above concept.

Key words
BMW, Autonomous driving, Connected Mobility Lab, bIoTope, System of Systems

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