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Automated driving: the Digitrans test track is being expanded for trucks

02. September 2022

The expansion of the test track in St. Valentin marks an important step towards the mobility of the future. On May 31, 2021, work began on expanding the existing test track on the grounds of the Magna Powertrain Engineering Center Steyr in St. Valentin, Austria. After the conversion, the test track will be specifically designed to test automated vehicle technologies under difficult weather and road conditions.

In the long term, the expansion of the test track in St. Valentin is intended to help improve transport and road safety, increase technology acceptance and promote the implementation of climate-neutral freight mobility concepts. This should lead to new and cost-efficient transport solutions and sustainable business models for the future of automated transport.

Test center for automated driving in St. Valentin

The primary goal is to establish a test infrastructure for autonomous vehicle technologies in order to develop, test and verify safe, connected and autonomous driving in Austria. To this end, a wide variety of traffic scenarios will be tested and validated under real-life conditions, as well as sensors, cameras and software deployed on the test track under adverse weather and road conditions. Connected and cooperative driving will continue to be subjected to rigorous testing and further developed using C-ITS and 5G.

The generated test data will then be made available for research and development purposes to provide a basis for the certification of autonomous, automated and commercial vehicles and to enable their rapid and safe implementation in real traffic. Of course, the expansion is also designed to enhance its attractiveness and international competitiveness.

Roadmap and expansion phases of the test track

The test site at the Magna Powertrain Engineering Center Steyr already features classic test elements such as asphalt tracks with different road markings, a driving dynamics surface, bad road tracks, twisting tracks, off-road terrain, different gradients and traffic circles. By the summer of 2022, the test track will be fully developed into a test center for automated commercial vehicles in two phases:

Phase 1 (2021) primarily encompassed infrastructure investments for passenger vehicle test areas: roads, intersections, traffic circles, highway sections, pavement markings, and lighting systems. These facilities are now already in operation after the completion of the first construction phase.

Phase 2 (2022-2023) is designed to create test areas for trucks. This refers to a lift zone and a city zone, as well as loading docks and entrance gates, test control station, stormwater system and traffic signal system with C-ITS interface. The asphalt roadway widening and traffic circle, pavement markings and sprinkler system construction are already on the roadway. The entire sprinkler system and the City Zone should then be completed as early as the summer of 2022.

DB Schenker and BRP-Rotax use the test track for an autonomous driving project

The international logistics service provider DB Schenker and the Austrian engine manufacturer BRP-Rotax are launching an autonomous driving project in cooperation with the test track in St. Valentin. A driverless electric vehicle will be used for freight transport on a 600-meter test route. The vehicle will be tested in advance on Digitrans' closed test area in St. Valentin in adverse weather and road conditions for safe road transport.

After completion of the test phase, the driverless electric transporter will then operate completely autonomously as of 2023 on the mainly public road between DB Schenker's logistics center and the BRP-Rotax company. The electric vehicle is expected to complete the route in all weathers, whether wind, rain or snow. A conventional diesel truck currently travels the same route several times a day for freight transport purposes.

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