Articles, Level 5 Autonomous Driving, Smart Mobility

Worldwide testing leaders - Who is pushing autonomous driving?

All over the world test areas are being built to test autonomous and connected driving. A brief overview of what is done worldwide:

Last year, the US Congress invited the country’s leading companies in this area to learn about the safety of the autonomous vehicles. At the time a research team from the RAND institute spoke before the congress. They demanded more and alternative testing procedures to check the technology before approving it for public road traffic. Even the roughly 1 million testing kilometers gathered by Google were no proof of security. A taxi in New York could cover the distance in a short period of time. Testing the technology is an important part of the desired traffic safety. As a result, new test centers are sprouting up from the ground worldwide and old ones are being improved in order to test autonomous driving.

Testing facility China

The largest test center worldwide is planned in China, its opening shall be celebrated this year. The test zone is to be located near the city of Zhangzhou and will spread over 56 square kilometers. In addition, a testing laboratory of about 600 square meters is being built. The project’s realization is enabled by Frontt Capital, a Shenzhen-based investment firm focused on developing the intelligent vehicle industry in China. Another cooperation partner for the Chinese project is M City from the USA.

Official proving grounds in the US

M City in the USA was one of the first facilities for such tests. It is located on the campus of the University of Michigan, which is closely involved with the topic autonomous driving. M City is co-operating with start-ups as well as with the major automotive companies like Toyota or Ford. M City is a city simulation with real streets and traffic signs, but the buildings are pure facade.

Meanwhile the number of test locations in the US has risen sharply. Since November 2016 the US traffic authority, NHTSA, is looking for suitable testing areas. Those who manage to get on the official list get a seal of approval. Surprisingly M City does not belong to the certified testing areas but the American Center for Mobility, which is also located in Michigan. There is also a test field in Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania), a network in Texas and a testing grounds in Florida, Wisconsin, North Carolina and California. Australia has already established several test areas and is planning to put up another one in Melbourne. In cooperation with the German company Bosch, Ipswich in Queensland is running the largest test in the area of vehicle communication.

Singapore and South Korea for driverless taxis

In Singapore various manufacturers are testing autonomous driving. This is permitted in a part of Singapore, where the companies nuTonomy and Delphi tested self-driving cars as taxis. South Korea does not want to be left behind by other countries and is planning to become the first country in the world where testing is allowed everywhere. So far a license is needed in order to test. Japan also wants to take action in this area and therefore already announced special zones last year. The aim is to reduce bureaucracy to a minimum. Recently, Japan has announced that the first testing zones will emerge in Tokyo – in the district of Ota around the airport Haneda. Other special areas are planned in the prefectures of Akita, Kanagawa and Aichi.

Germany’s proving grounds

The most popular testing field in Germany is the digital highway which was introduced one year ago. The area has grown constantly is to be implemented in German cities. Various cities like Dresden, Munich, Hamburg, Berlin, Braunschweig, Ingolstadt or Düsseldorf have already received a special permission.

This is only a shortlist which could be extended every month. But can clearly recognize that autonomous driving has reached the testing phase.

About the author:

David Fluhr is journalist and owner of the digital magazine “Autonomes Fahren & Co”. He is reporting regularly about trends and technologies in the fields Autonomous Driving, HMI, Telematics and Robotics. Link to his site: