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The 360Lab: An Interdisciplinary Hub for Smart Mobility

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Published on Thursday, 16 January 2020

Autonomous vehicle technology is already sending ripples through the automotive industry. And here in Luxembourg, Dr Raphael Frank, a Research Scientist at the University of Luxembourg’s Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust (SnT) is leading the development of a new research lab entirely focused on smart mobility, the 360Lab.

'My idea from the beginning was to have a platform where different research groups could join in on projects that are interdisciplinary and centred around smart mobility. That meant bringing researchers from different backgrounds together to collaborate on aspects of our projects,” Frank says about the new lab. “Our group now includes researchers from data science, networking, machine learning, and robotics. And we are very glad to be working with industry partners too, such as NVIDIA, who collaborates with us as part of our joint AI Lab.' The collaboration with NVIDIA has, in fact, already yielded promising results in the form of a paper on an AI technique for self-driving cars.

Unique in the region, the 360Lab offers the opportunity to actually work with a real-life automated vehicle. It also offers researchers its soon-to-be-published autonomous driving software platform, “RoboCar”. “We want our contribution to the smart mobility ecosystem to help other researchers realise the number of opportunities available. That’s why we will publish RoboCar as an open-source resource. We want to give more people the tools they need to begin their own research,” says Frank. 

ADAS: Automotive Automation Already Changing the Industry

The shift to automated driving will be gradual and steady, as each year cars are outfitted with more sensors and systems to improve driver performance and safety. These advances, collectively known as ADAS (advanced driver-assistance systems) include a number of developments from autonomous vehicle research that have already made a debut on public roads, such as adaptive cruise control, automatic parking, and much more. The 360Lab’s collaboration with Foyer Assurances Luxembourg investigates how these steps toward fully automated driving are already changing the automotive insurance market.

François Robinet, a PhD candidate in the 360Lab, has begun data science research that may lead to new insurance offers for ADAS-equipped vehicles. “We are collecting driving data from our connected vehicle and are going through it to see how these systems impact the overall risk level,” Robinet says, explaining the immediate impact of automated vehicle research.

TERMINAL: A Smart Cross-Border Transportation Solution

Luxembourg’s strong commuter culture and geographic location also make it a compelling laboratory for exploring the future challenges and opportunities of automated driving in Europe. The project TERMINAL, funded by the ERDF as part of the INTERREG V A Greater Region program, is already bringing together municipalities, researchers, and businesses from across the greater region to explore the possibility of an automated cross-border shuttle bus system. The three-year project will culminate in a six-month test of an electric automated minibus, which will operate a route across the German-French border in 2020.

As part of the project, the 360Lab will be collecting and analysing data from a number of Luxembourg’s own cross-border bus routes. “The subtle differences in road signs, infrastructure, and driving culture mean that an automated vehicle needs to be able to cope with greater diversity in the environment than otherwise necessary,” Frank explains.

While smart mobility steadily gains momentum around the world, the 360Lab will continue tackling the interdisciplinary research necessary to bring these technologies to Luxembourg -- and to improve your own commute to boot.

Interested in collaborating? Let’s talk: the 360Lab is always looking for new partners and projects from all points on the expanding automated mobility value chain.

This article was originally published on 15 January 2020 in Autoregion International: https://www.vek-onlineservice.de/publikation/ar120/20/