Minister of Transport Hermann informs himself about work in the Karlsruhe Reallabor

14 months of autonomous driving in real road traffic

Karlsruhe /

For more than a year, research institutions and small and medium-sized industrial companies have been able to test automated driving and functions on the public test field Autonomous Driving Baden-Württemberg. On July 3, Baden-Württemberg's Transport Minister Winfried Hermann informed himself about current projects in Karlsruhe.

Dr.-Ing. Miriam Ruf mit Verkehrsminister Winfried Hermann
© Fraunhofer IOSB
Dr.-Ing. Miriam Ruf, Minister of Transport Winfried Hermann presents the research work of the test field autonomous driving and the Fraunhofer IOSB within the framework of the profile region.

Vehicles that communicate with traffic lights and other road users, a driverless cab that is called by app as needed: The visit of Winfried Herman, Baden-Württemberg's Minister of Transport, on Wednesday to the Autonomous Driving Baden-Württemberg (TAF BW) test field was characterized by interactivity. Using a smartphone app, the Minister of Transport called an autonomous cab to his location and had himself automatically chauffeured along a course on the eastern campus of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), where the vehicle automatically communicated with traffic lights, pedestrians, and cyclists. During the automated parking process, the vehicle demonstrated the precision with which it operates without human assistance.

Transport Minister Winfried Hermann emphasized: "Autonomous driving can and should become an essential component of sustainable mobility in the future. However, for broad acceptance it is important to develop this technology together with people. Real laboratories are suitable for this".

Minister Hermann referred to the potential applications of autonomous driving: "We want to exploit its advantages, especially in local public transport. We hope to be able to reduce car journeys if multi-passenger, autonomously driving buses are used. Rural areas could also be better connected to the centers. Important impulses could also be given to traffic safety, which can be improved above all in private transport and here already by partial automation. I am therefore very pleased to see the progress being made on the test field supported by the state and I see that the technology has its appeal. I am confident that acceptance among the population will increase". The Minister of Transport also invited research institutes, companies, transportation companies and local authorities to test automated driving themselves and invited them to the test field in Karlsruhe.

The head of the test field consortium, Professor Marius Zöllner, explained: "Over the past 14 months, various projects have been launched on the test field, and it is also being continuously expanded. From autonomous parking and the operation of autonomous shuttles, to research into the legal framework conditions and the social acceptance of self-propelled vehicles, new forms of mobility are being comprehensively developed in Baden-Württemberg."

Professor Zöllner added: "I am delighted that we are able to show the Baden-Württemberg Transport Minister today that we are setting new standards in interdisciplinary research in Karlsruhe. At the same time, I am proud to be able to say that we are seeing growing interest from industrial companies. This shows us that we are on the right track," said the director of the FZI Research Center for Computer Science and professor at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology."

Mayor Dr. Frank Mentrup explained: "Local, regional, supraregional - Europe-wide: Karlsruhe is helping to shape tomorrow's mobility on many levels. With the test field that is currently being set up in Karlsruhe and the region, we are courageously opening a whole new chapter in the mobility of the future. We hope that a clever, innovative combination of autonomous vehicles in public transport will open up new possibilities for achieving better mobility for everyone without - and this is the decisive point - causing more traffic."

Michael Decker, Professor of Technology Assessment and head of the KIT Department of Computer Science, Economics, and Society, said: "As a transdisciplinary real-world laboratory, the TAF BW forms an important bridge between research and application and thus triggers the exchange between science, economy, and society. The work of the KIT and its strong partners ranges from economic-legal to psychological-ethical-social issues and also includes the IT security of the systems. This comprehensive analysis under real conditions is the key to successful innovation."

The interactive demonstration of autonomous driving functions was embedded in presentations in which the test field consortium informed Minister of Transport Hermann about the current equipment of the test field, which has also been oriented to the needs of the test field users in recent months. In addition, various research projects were presented that deal with the topic of autonomous driving on the test field in an interdisciplinary way. These included the "Smart Mobility" projects funded by the state of Baden-Württemberg in Karlsruhe, which deal with topics such as optimizing the visual recognition of pedestrians on the basis of networked infrastructure, as well as intelligent parking garages that are designed to enable autonomous parking for vehicles with different degrees of autonomy. Smart Mobility" funding will also shed light on the legal framework conditions and, finally, on the opportunities and risks of autonomous driving. In another project funded by the Ministry of Transport, Karlsruhe scientists are evaluating the traffic effects of automated driving.

In talks with representatives of the Baden-Württemberg-based companies Porsche and Visteon, they reported to the Transport Minister that science and industry are working hand in hand in mobility research. Both companies are developing autonomous driving functions and are relying on testing in real road traffic. A special highlight was the first shuttle vehicle for the EVA-Shuttle project, which arrived in time for the visit at the FZI and will be upgraded for mixed traffic in the coming months by automated driving functions. The public transport project, which is funded by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, focuses on the testing of autonomous, electrically operated mini-shuttle buses for the first and last mile in real operation.


About the Autonomous Driving Test Field Baden-Württemberg

On the Autonomous Driving Baden-Württemberg (TAF BW) test field, companies and research institutions can test future-oriented technologies and services related to networked and automated driving in everyday road traffic, such as automated driving of cars, buses or commercial vehicles such as street cleaning or delivery services. In addition, the regulatory and legal framework can be updated. To this end, the setup phase included the preparation of a wide variety of traffic areas, the generation of highly accurate 3D maps and the installation of sensors for the real-time recording of traffic and its influencing factors.

The responsible Ministry of Transport provided 2.5 million euros for the design, planning and construction of the test field. Construction of the test field began in 2016 and the system was commissioned in May 2018. The Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts (MWK) and the Ministry of Transport (VM) are supporting research on the test field with a further 2.5 million euros under the "Smart Mobility" funding program.

Further information is available at

Fraunhofer IOSB is a cooperation partner in the Autonomous Driving Baden-Württemberg test field.



Press contact
FZI Forschungszentrum Informatik

Julia Feilen, Communications

Telefon: +49 721 9654-943




Last modified: