30. April 2020
The AUTOPILOT project

Internet of Things meets automated driving

Automated parking with drone support
Automated parking with drone support
Image 1/4, Credit: © DLR. All rights reserved

Automated parking with drone support

Using an app, the driver instructs the car to park.
Parking space search by drone
Parking space search by drone
Image 2/4, Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)

Parking space search by drone

A specialised drone scans the carpark and searches for a free space.
"The route is being made!"
"The route is being made!"
Image 3/4, Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)

"The route is being made!"

The drone transmits the position of the vacant parking space to the system, which then creates the route and sends the vehicle off.
"Pick me up!"
"Pick me up!"
Image 4/4, Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)

"Pick me up!"

The driver ‘calls’ the car to him via the app.
  • The EU project 'AUTOPILOT' focused on the combination of the two future technologies, automated driving and the Internet of Things (IoT).
  • Together with partners from industry and science, DLR developed and tested new driving functions and driving services as well as the necessary IT architectures and IT platforms.
  • Among other things, they successfully demonstrated the automated parking of a vehicle with the support of a drone.
  • Investigations into user expectations and acceptance of these technologies were also key aspects of the project.
  • Focus: Transport, intelligent mobility, digitalisation

How can automated driving be advanced through the Internet of Things? Together with more than 40 European partners from research and industry, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) has successfully brought these two future technologies together in the EU project 'AUTOPILOT' (Automated Driving Progressed by the Internet of Things). The project focused on the development, testing and assessment of new driving modes and transportation services as well as the IT architectures and platforms required to implement them. These technologies ensure that the various components of the Internet of Things – from smartphones and drones to traffic lights, cameras and other sensors – are able to communicate with automated vehicles. Together, more data can be collected, generated and analysed than would be possible with automated vehicles alone –further improving the safety, efficiency and comfort of tomorrow's smart mobility.

Automated parking with drone support

In the 'Automated Valet Parking' sub-project, researchers from the DLR Institute of Transportation Systems developed a concept to drastically reduce the time spent searching for and manoeuvring into a parking space. The driver drops off their car at a specified location and then uses an app to issue parking instructions. The system behind the app knows where there are free parking spaces and navigates the vehicle accordingly and parks it. The user can also retrieve the vehicle using the app. The information on available parking spaces is obtained by a networked and fully autonomous flying drone – a component of the Internet of Things. It flies a fixed course at a height of two or three metres and uses its four cameras to acquire data. With this information, the system can identify free parking spaces, determine the optimal route and detect obstacles. The DLR Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics originally developed the 'ARDEA' drone for the exploration of planets and for use in disaster areas, such as detecting people in buildings that cannot be entered safely or which have already partially collapsed. For this reason, it flies at a relatively low altitude and independently of satellite navigation data. "Unlike stationary cameras, the drone can be used flexibly, for example in parking areas without the necessary infrastructure or in parking areas that are only used temporarily, such as a field at a festival," explains DLR researcher Marcus Müller. Project Manager Robert Kaul from the DLR Institute of Transportation Systems adds, "The new and challenging aspect of our sub-project was the large number of devices involved that all have to communicate with each other, that is, they all have to speak a common language." Kaul's team created a superordinate IT platform for this purpose that enables the integration of all the required elements and their interaction through the appropriate interfaces. The platform also manages data traffic and, as an open source solution, is independent of individual providers. The scientists have successfully demonstrated that all components work together virtually and in reality through practical trials held at the DLR site in Braunschweig (see video).

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Internet of Things: DLR tests automated parking using an app and a drone
In the EU project AUTOPILOT, DLR developed and tested new driving functions. For automated parking, a driver simply leaves their car at a predefined point and sends it off using an app. They can then call it back again later in the same way. Using a drone, the system finds free parking spaces,...
High-tech meets users – expectations and acceptance

Both automated driving and the Internet of Things are still in the early stages of development and of improving individual mobility and entire transportation systems. User expectations and acceptance play an important role in successfully bringing together people and new technologies. Experts from the DLR Institute of Transport Research have therefore investigated the requirements, expectations and concerns of users for the applications developed and tested as part of the AUTOPILOT project. They conducted an online survey, led practical tests on site and asked pilot users about their experiences. "In general, the response was positive," says DLR researcher Viktoriya Kolarova. "It is important that the services are easy to book or use – and providing more information about how the technology behind them works only increases trust." In addition to technical and digital security, the main concerns include reliability and data protection. For example, when it came to automated parking, the respondents also wanted to be able to obtain information about where their vehicle was at any given time.

  • Denise Nüssle
    German Aerospace Center (DLR)

    Media Relations
    Telephone: +49 711 6862-8086
    Fax: +49 711 6862-636
    Pfaffenwaldring 38-40
    70569 Stuttgart
  • Robert Kaul
    German Aerospace Center (DLR)
    Institute of Transportation Systems
    Telephone: +49 531 295-3469
    Fax: +49 531 295-3402
    Lilienthalplatz 7
    38108 Braunschweig
  • Marcus Müller
    German Aerospace Center (DLR)
    Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics
    Perception and Cognition
    Telephone: +49 8153 28-3097
    Münchener Straße 20
    82234 Oberpfaffenhofen-Weßling
  • Viktoriya Kolarova
    German Aerospace Center (DLR)
    Institute of Transport Research
    Passenger Transport
    Telephone: +49 30 67055-500
    Rutherfordstraße 2
    12489 Berlin

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