2017/08 Opening of the Vodafone 5G Mobility Lab in Aldenhoven

Since 2009 the Automotive Testing Center (ATC) in Aldenhoven offers eight different track elements and, therefore, the possibility to develop and evaluate technical approaches for almost each traffic situation imaginable in real world. In May of 2015 the so-called automotiveGATE with six Galileo-pseudolites emitting emulated Galileo satellite signals has been placed at public’s proposal for developments regarding localization and automation. Now, since August 30th 2017, Vodafone’s 5G Mobility Lab has complemented the ATC officially and provides a modern mobile test network, which implies future mobile technologies and enables communication among all traffic components, such as car-2-car, on ATC-tracks.

Also the joint research project Galileo Online: GO! benefits from this new Mobility Lab, since an essential part of GO! is the development of an GNSS-receiver with integrated tailor-made communication solutions. During the opening event of Vodafone’s 5G Mobility Lab, GO!’s project team demonstrates impressively the possibilities, which arise by combining satellite-navigation-systems with modern communication technology.

The aforementioned demonstration implied use cases specifically for rail applications, such as automated shunting and permanent train integrity checks. In Aldenhoven, the use cases were performed by mobile testing platforms: the IRT-Buggies. Those Buggies pretended to be rail vehicles and were coupled virtually moving across a virtual railroad network. This virtual train environment was possible due to the high-precision localization of each buggy with an accuracy of 2 – 3 centimeters and also due to a cross-linked communication between each vehicle. The coordination of all virtual train vehicles were done via an also connected central service platform.

Pictures 1 - Buggy-scenario preparation for the opening event of the 5G Mobility Lab in Aldenhoven

Pictures 1 – Buggy-scenario preparation for the opening event of the 5G Mobility Lab in Aldenhoven

For the first demonstration scenario, the automated shunting, a virtual shunting area has been established. The fully automated shunting process has been started using an online web service. One buggy marked as locomotive moved automatically multiple wagons from one part of the virtual shunting area to another. The autonomous Buggies were controlled by a central disposition system, which provided all necessary drive-, coupling- and switch-commands.

Pictures 2 - GO! booth and two coupled Buggies at the vehicle dynamic area of the ATC test side

Pictures 2 – GO! booth and two coupled Buggies at the vehicle dynamic area of the ATC test side

The second scenario presented by GO! was set up by using three Buggies and a circular track in order to demonstrate the permanent train integrity check. Therefore, a command to decouple the last wagon of the virtual train was triggered manually at particular time. This critical situation has always been detected within the central system by using only the data of the high-precision localization of each buggy. As soon as recognized, the system initiated an emergency brake and transmitted a warning accordingly to warn and stop (possible) following trains.

By connecting satellite signals, vehicle sensor data and cloud-based solutions, GO! demonstrated a multitude of possible use-cases, which are not only limited to rail applications but can also be transferred to other transportation systems.