On 12 May 2022, the IMAGinE consortium presented the results of its research and development effort at a virtual final presentation in context of five core innovations: Cooperative Maneuver Coordination, Communication Mechanisms, Cooperative Environment Model, Human-Machine Interaction, and Simulation Environment.
The presentations of this event can be found here.
The IMAGinE (Intelligent Maneuver Automation – cooperative hazard avoidance in realtime) project is developing innovative driving assistance systems for cooperative driving. Cooperative driving refers to road traffic behaviour in which road users cooperatively plan and execute driving maneuvers. Individual driving behaviour is coordinated with other road users and the overall traffic situation based on automatic information exchange between vehicles and infrastructure. Critical situations can be avoided or mitigated, thereby making driving safer and more efficient.
Communication technologies enable vehicles to exchange information with other vehicles about objects detected by on-board sensors in real time, thus providing the technological basis for collective environmental perception. Intuitive human-machine interaction concepts ensure high user acceptance of these technologies. IMAGinE employs advanced simulation systems to analyse to what extent cooperative driving maneuvers increase traffic efficiency.
The IMAGinE project consortium consists of twelve German partners and brings together leading companies from the automotive industry, small- and medium-sized businesses focusing on simulation, an academic institution, and a public road management company. IMAGinE is funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action.
Creating Opportunities Through Cooperation in Road Traffic
Road users are increasingly supported by technical assistance systems that provide them with safety-related recommendations or even directly execute such actions. However, these recommendations and actions are neither communicated nor coordinated with other vehicles.
Moving from Individual to Cooperative Reaction
So far, conflicts between vehicles are addressed individually – either by technical systems or by the drivers themselves. These critical driving situations affect the flow of traffic and may lead to accidents. Active cooperation between vehicles contributes to avoiding these critical driving situations.
The importance of cooperation between vehicles will increase significantly in the coming years and in the future, traffic will be characterized more and more by vehicles with varying degrees of automation. Vehicles with automated driving systems will depend on the cooperative behaviour of other vehicles, for example if environmental perception is only possible to a limited extent for whatever reason.
Cooperative Maneuver Coordination
IMAGinE is the first project to focus on goal-driven interactions between vehicles to coordinate maneuver planning. IMAGinE draws on selected cooperative functions and use cases to demonstrate the validity of the concepts developed in the project. These functions and use cases are tested in simulations and in prototype passenger cars and trucks on motorways and highways.
Cooperative Environment Model
A comprehensive cooperative environment model forms the foundation for cooperative driving maneuvers. IMAGinE is working on enhancing the current approach of processing and fusing sensor data by integrating external object data from the environment. It is the first project to specify and implement a collective environmental model as a basis for cooperative maneuver planning, independent of specific OEMs.
IMAGinE is the first project to work on conceptualising and implementing new messaging and suitable communication protocols necessary to coordinate contextual communication. This requires adapting existing message formats and defining new ones to enable the transmission of data relevant to decision-making among vehicles and between vehicles and infrastructure.
IMAGinE is working on conceptualising and analysing human-machine interfaces that allow for cooperative interaction between different road users and their vehicles. An important challenge in this processing is developing comprehensive and intuitive assistant concepts that motivate drivers to engage in cooperative behaviour.
Existing simulation tools depict ego vehicles in a non-coordinated environment. IMAGinE is developing and implementing a generic and extendable simulation environment that – for the first time – facilitates the display of purposeful interactions between vehicles and, building on that, the analysis of cooperative maneuvers of several road users.
V2X communication technology enables the exchange of information between vehicles about their surroundings. Because of this, gaps in environmental perception caused by insufficient equipment, limited sensor range, shading or sensors’ physical limits can be filled in.
This principle of collective perception facilitates a common and shared understanding of the driving situation, which sets the stage for cooperative driving maneuvers. Collective environmental perception generates a common knowledge base among all vehicles equipped with V2X communication technology. As a result, assisted driving functions can lead to considerably improved cooperative driving behaviours.
To maximize the cooperation potential between vehicles, IMAGinE is developing and implementing communication protocols for information exchange between intelligent systems and drivers. Real-time communication allows for timely reactions to highly dynamic and complex driving situations. The project therefore is aiming to create a real-time capable framework for cooperative driving.