The Federal Government has set itself the objective of effectively shaping the mobility of the future. Digital innovations in the transport sector are to ensure modern, clean, accessible and affordable mobility in towns and cities as well as in rural areas. This makes it necessary to develop new innovative mobility strategies. Digitalizing transport systems therefore plays a key role. The core elements in this context are technologies for automated and connected driving and the application of methods of Artificial Intelligence. The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) provides grants to fund research and innovation in these sectors.
The ‘Research for Autonomous Driving’ Action Plan
In July 2019, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi) and the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) adopted the ‘Research for Autonomous Driving’ Action Plan. This Action Plan is to be considered as a cross-departmental framework for research funding of the Federal Government in the fields of autonomous, automated and connected driving. The funding is to be coordinated and pushed forward and is to be geared towards the following guiding principles:
- Autonomous driving must be safe.
- Autonomous driving must be efficient, sustainable, clean, accessible, affordable and optimally citizen-focused.
- The technological leadership of Germany’s automotive industry is to be secured in the long term also in the field of autonomous driving.
In order to optimally cover all research priorities concerning autonomous driving, the measures of the government departments involved are focused on the following topics:
- BMBF: electronics and sensor technology, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and software technologies, cyber security incl. communications systems, technologies for human-technology interaction, sustainability effects as well as societal and local authority requirements.
- BMWi: systemic aspects of the means of transport, new hardware and software architectures, safety of autonomous driving systems, AI procedures for conditional automation (SAE Level 3), data fusion and processing, testing procedures and validation.
- BMVI: infrastructure, human-machine interaction, organization of road traffic/traffic management (including deployment of AI), cooperation and connectivity, societal aspects and trialling in road traffic.
Funding guidelines entitled ‘Ensuring a Viable and Sustainable Mobility System through Automated Driving and Connectivity’
The funding guidelines entitled ‘Ensuring a Viable and Sustainable Mobility System through Automated Driving and Connectivity’ are to contribute to developing approaches from the fields of automated and connected driving as a component of the mobility system of the future. They address in particular automated driving at higher automation levels, going as far as autonomous (driverless) driving, as well as connectivity in road transport including the consideration of interfaces with other modes of transport in complex use cases, also using Artificial Intelligence (AI) methods.
Stakeholders are invited to submit project outlines within the framework of separate calls for applications for funding which are published in the Federal Gazette and on the Ministry's website. 14 projects from the first call for applications for funding in spring 2019 are supported with funds amounting to around 62 million euros. 12 projects from the second call for applications for funding in spring 2020 are supported with funds amounting to around 61 million euros.
The third call for applications for funding is available for download (see below). 17 September 2021 was the deadline for submitting project outlines. The Federal Agency for Administrative Services (BAV) provides administrative support for projects under this call for applications for funding. The call for applications for funding contains further information.
Research Programme on Automation and Connectivity in Road Transport
The research programme was developed on the basis of the Strategy for Automated and Connected Driving of the Federal Government (2016) and implemented by two funding guidelines. It primarily addresses issues relating to transport and social policy. The funding focuses on research and trials in the following fields:
- driver/vehicle interaction;
- traffic management and transport planning;
- connectivity and data management;
- social aspects.