AstaZero Dry Zone

World’s Longest Indoor Autonomous Vehicle Test Track Now Open

The automotive industry is undergoing change and tests and trials are being conducted more agilely. AstaZero is now opening the world’s longest indoor track for testing active safety systems and autonomous technologies for all types of vehicles. Vehicle operators are able to conduct tests 24 hours a day, 365 days a year with reproducible light and surfaces. 

AstaZero is the world’s first full-scale independent testing and demonstration facility for future road safety, and it is now being expanded to house the world’s longest indoor track: 700 metres long and 40 metres wide. AstaZero Dry Zone will be inaugurated on 28 April.

–    “AstaZero Dry Zone will play an important role in the transition of the automotive industry and will provide unique opportunities needed for research, development and validation of self-driving and connected vehicles as well as the surrounding infrastructure,” says Pia Sandvik, CEO RISE. 

The automobile industry conducts millions of tests every year. Reproducible environments are a fundamental prerequisite for ensuring the accuracy of test results.  

–    “The tests and trials conducted by vehicle operators require plenty of personnel and result in excessive travel,” says Peter Janevik, CEO of AstaZero. “In AstaZero Dry Zone, the development time can be streamlined and tests can be carried out 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”

AstaZero has customers across the globe. The industry has been asking for a long indoor track in Sweden for many years. And when the pandemic hit and the subsequent restrictions made it difficult for the industry to conduct important tests, the need only became greater, which is when plans for the new track accelerated. 

–    “AstaZero’s facility provides a wide range of infrastructure that is important for the testing and validation of our technologies in safety, autonomous driving and connectivity, making it possible for us to perform testing in well-controlled environments all year round”, said Mats Moberg, Senior Vice President of R&D at Volvo Cars.

AstaZero Dry Zone can be compared to a brightly illuminated aircraft hangar. Tests can be carried out repeatedly in the same light conditions and on the same surface, no matter the time of day or season. Active safety systems and autonomous technologies comprise the main focus areas, but vehicle dynamics and brake performance will also be tested on the new track. 

–    “We at Chalmers look forward to AstaZero Dry Zone. Here we will be able to conduct advanced research in, for example, autonomous driving, in facilities where we have full control over light and weather conditions. Autonomous driving is an area of great benefit and potential for the automotive industry and society as a whole. AstaZero will now be an even more competitive facility giving Chalmers, together with the industry, excellent conditions for participating in large research projects”, says Stefan Bengtsson, President and CEO of Chalmers University of Technology.

The Västra Götaland Region’s programme for sustainable transport is supporting the initiative with an amount of SEK 10 million.

Inauguration
Welcome to the live stream of the inauguration of AstaZero Dry Zone on 28 April at 11 am
https://www.ri.se/en/astazero-dryzone 

For further information, kindly contact
Peter Janevik, CEO AstaZero
peter.janevik@astazero.com or +46 (0)10 516 6143

About AstaZero Dry Zone
Dimensions: 700 metres long, 40 metres wide (widening to 60 metres along a 140-metre mid-section), and with a height of 4.6 m up to the ceiling. 

The first warranty customer will be Volvo Cars.

The world’s longest indoor test track for self-driving vehicles

AstaZero is now building the world’s longest indoor track for testing self-driving vehicles. AstaZero is the leading test bed for the automated transport systems of the future. With the new indoor track, AstaZero consolidates its position as a world-unique test environment.

The Swedish test bed AstaZero, located in Hällered outside Borås, is the world’s first full-scale independent test and demonstration environment for future traffic safety.

Every year, more than 1.2 million people worldwide are killed in traffic accidents. Active safety is a way to reduce the number of fatal accidents. The next step is systems for automated driving and AstaZero offers a unique facility with different traffic environments that makes it possible to test advanced safety systems and their functions for different types of traffic and traffic situations.

Many of the advanced cameras and sensors required for future road safety systems need to be tested and verified in repeatable lighting conditions such as backlighting and shadows.

– How do we provide a controlled outdoor environment in an environment that is largely characterized by rain, snow and darkness during part of the year, asks Peter Janevik, CEO of AstaZero.

The answer will stand ready at AstaZero in the beginning of February 2021, with the world’s longest and largest indoor track. The track will measure 700 meters long and 40 meters wide, with a central part of 140 meters that will be 60 meters wide. To be able to house trucks, buses and cars, the indoor track has an internal ceiling height of 4.6 meters.

With development cycles constantly decreasing over time, the industry’s need for accessibility to the test environment must be increased at the same time.

– Tomorrow’s road safety system requires an enormous amount of testing, which means work around the clock, 365 days a year. With our new indoor track, we will provide daylight and dry road tracks at 03.00 on a November night, says Peter Janevik, CEO of AstaZero.

The investment is supported by the Västra Götaland region’s program for sustainable transport with SEK 10 million.

New FFI Project VAMLAV – Validation of Mapping and Localization for Autonomous Vehicles – uses Crowdsourcing for Map Datasets

Many AI systems, especially object and segmentation algorithms, have a high demand for good datasets. These datasets are also crucial for the development of automated and connected vehicles, but today there are few open/free datasets for the automotive industry. These datasets lack equivalent HD maps, repeatability and a closed, controlled environment. Therefore, VAMLAV – Validation of Mapping and Localization for Autonomous Vehicles – will create a new dataset which includes changes in the environment, a corresponding HD map and repeatability.

The dataset to be collected at the AstaZero test center will be used for validation and testing of map generation technologies and localization/positioning systems, using Zenuity vehicles equipped with various sensors. VAMLAV will also enable further research by making the dataset free and open to interested parties, by having AI Innovation of Sweden handle distribution. The transparent VAMLAV dataset enables other research areas, such as track planning, detection of environmental changes (weather, moving objects) and facilitates crowdsourcing etc. This provides an update and optimization of the maps currently held by Mapillary.

After project completion, VAMLAV aims at enabling other parties to contribute to the dataset at AstaZero’s Rural Road test track, thereby promoting research of crowdsourced HD map generation and the ability to share datasets within a specific industry. 

VAMLAV will develop an HD map of Rural Road at AstaZero using the existing measurement infrastructure that is specifically installed at AstaZero for measuring positions and by designing and anchor points provided by RISE. VAMLAV also collects data from specific sensors for the dataset. The dataset and corresponding HD maps will then be used to generate new/other HD maps (image-based HD map) and help validate and test HD mapping generation and localization algorithms.

Project partners: AstaZero (coordinator), RISE, Zenuity, Mapillary, AI innovation of Sweden.

Project period: 1 Oct 2019 – 30 Sep 2021

Project budget: MSEK 11.5 of which 50% from Vinnova’s FFI program under contract no 2019-03097.

European effort to demonstrate safe automated driving

Automated vehicles are predicted be able to provide both safer and more sustainable transport on European roads. The research project HEADSTART will develop test methods to demonstrate that the functions used in automated driving are sufficiently secure.

Security is a basic prerequisite for automated driving and research is needed to solve complex issues. The HEADSTART (Harmonised European Solutions for Testing Automated Road Transport) project aims at the functions related to positioning, communication between vehicles and cybersecurity. For the automated functions to be safe enough, all these three characteristics must be reliable.

The project is a collaboration between partners from nine European countries and will last for three years, 2019 – 2021. The Swedish participants Chalmers University of Technology, RISE, AstaZero, Volvo Group and Veoneer gather within SAFER, Vehicle and Traffic Safety Centre at Chalmers.

The HEADSTART project strengthens the SAFER project portfolio for research in automated driving. Research becomes important for the continued work to contribute to a safe and sustainable transport system where future automated vehicles will have a key role, says Magnus Granström, SAFER’s director.

The project will compile existing test methods and tools, while taking into consideration the views of authorities, vehicle manufacturers and other stakeholders throughout Europe. The goal is to achieve coherence around four test cases.

The Swedish partners are researching, among other things, the requirements that can be imposed on automated vehicles in different scenarios, and how this is linked to the technical requirements of vehicle equipment. In conclusion, the SAFER partners will conduct a demonstration of how the safety of this technology can be adequately evaluated. This demonstration will take place at AstaZero.

The research is funded by EU’s Horizon 2020 by EUR 6 million. Visit the project website at https://www.headstart-project.eu.