A company called Dekra will take over the Lausitzring race track on November 1, 2017, and turn it into an autonomous vehicle testing ground.
Together with the Dekra Technology Center, in immediate proximity to the race track in Klettwitz, Brandenburg, since 2003, the site will be made into the innovation center for the testing of the mobility of the future.
It will become a central component of the international testing network for connected and automated driving, which Dekra is establishing in Europe and Asia, and will bring “new, high-quality jobs to the region”, says the company.
Stefan Kölbl, CEO of Dekra, says: “We are initially investing more than €30 million in establishing this testing network.
“Automation and connectivity, the topics of the future, are becoming increasingly important for the safety of mobility. We take our ‘safety mandate’, which the founders of Dekra defined more than 90 years ago, very seriously.
“That is why we are offering testing and development expertise to our customers from the automotive industry. The takeover of Lausitzring and its combination with the Dekra Technology Center is a very decisive step for us.”
In Klettwitz, the focus of the network is on constructing testing facilities for all aspects of automated driving. This will be complemented in the medium term by the topic of connectivity, which is, within the Dekra Group, the main focus of the experts in Málaga, Spain. From their expertise, testing capacity will also be developed in Klettwitz.
Kölbl says: “The combination of connection and automation is a vital requirement for autonomous driving in the future. That is why our customers, especially in the automotive industry, need the necessary testing services from one provider. We will be able to provide this through the intensive cooperation of all the Dekra locations and business units involved.”
In Klettwitz, Dekra is investing tens of millions in the largest manufacturer-independent center for connected and automated driving in Europe.
Clemens Klinke, member of the board of Dekra SE and head of the automotive business unit, says: “We are investing in roads and facilities for the comprehensive testing of automated driving functions. This will enable us, as a development and testing partner for the automotive industry, to set up very complex scenarios, for urban, non-urban or highway journeys, in a highly flexible way.”
More specifically, there will be two city routes, an overland route and a highway route on the existing test oval, along with several large asphalt areas, which are ideal for such tests.
The infrastructure will also include all the necessary components for the integration of vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication.
“Measuring equipment will include ultra-modern systems such as driving robots, self-propelled platforms, various soft targets and mobile traffic infrastructure installations, which we can use to test camera-, laser- and radar-based environment recognition systems,” says Klinke.
Josef Meier, managing director of EuroSpeedway, from whom Dekra is taking over the race track, says: “We are delighted that the next chapter of the Lausitzring will open on such a positive note.
“After eight years, in which we have successfully operated and developed the Lausitzring, we were faced with the question of how to transform it into a long-term, sustainable concept, given the current investment needs.
“Together with Dekra as a long-standing, reliable partner we have found what is, from our perspective, a good solution.”
In the expanded Dekra Technology Center, it will also be possible to offer high-quality education and training courses in automated driving functions. Appropriate training will be given to up to 500 participants a day.
Following the takeover, the site will be made available to Dekra customers from early 2018. The planned expansion of tracks and infrastructure will be largely completed in 2018.
In the coming years, many high-quality jobs will be created in the Dekra Technology Center.
Volker Noeske, head of the DTC, says: “The workforce will be expanded gradually to meet the needs of the testing of automated driving functions.”
There are currently 48 people employed at the Lausitzring, including seasonal workers. The plan is for this number to increase in the medium term to around 100 – in addition to the almost 100 employees at the DTC today.
Kölbl says: “In Klettwitz, we are investing in the future of mobility and in the future of Dekra.
“Our involvement in the Lausitzring is a clear commitment to the location and plays an important role in the implementation of our vision of becoming the global partner for a safe world by 2025.”