FEATURE: How to make the most of the ITS World Congress

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The wait is over: ‘lighthouse city’ Hamburg is today (October 11) set to welcome over 10,000 registered attendees and hundreds of exhibitors from across the global ITS ecosystem.

“It’s time to get back to meeting each other in person, sharing ideas and experiences with colleagues, customers and partners,” says Jacob Bangsgaard, CEO of ERTICO-ITS Europe. “Those are contacts and connections that you cannot get through a Teams call. This is what the ITS community is so strong at – building innovation by joining forces – and why set-piece events like the World Congress are so important. I can’t wait to see everyone.”

Jacob Bangsgaard, CEO, ERTICO-ITS Europe

Future mobility in action

Technical visits and live demonstrations are a widely anticipated feature of the congress. “We have 19 technical visits planned, not only in Hamburg but reaching across Germany,” says Harry Evers, CEO of ITS Hamburg, co-organiser of the Congress. “More than 1,000 people will be able to experience future mobility now.” Hamburg activities include demonstrations on public roads and in the port area. 27 demonstrations in the city are confirmed, with dynamic showcases like the L3 Pilot complemented by ‘static’ demonstrations in and around the congress centre itself.

The L3 Pilot – testing automated driving on public roads – has been specifically scheduled during the World Congress. “Our work in automation reached a level of maturity where we could leave the testing grounds and drive on real roads,” says Aria Etemad, senior project manager, Volkswagen Group Innovation. Applications tested include traffic jams, motorway driving, parking, and automated urban driving. Supported by European Commission funding, the large-scale L3 pilot, which started in 2017 and has involved 1,000 drivers in 100 automated cars in 10 countries, reaches its climax in Hamburg.

Technology demonstrations will take place on the streets around Hamburg Messe

‘We’re excited it’s happening’

Aria Etemad continues, “The complexity of this project required many partners and especially global players. It’s the first time 13 vehicle manufacturers were involved in a single project.” Project partners included OEMs such as Volkswagen, Honda, Ford and Volvo, suppliers such as Aptiv, FEV and Veoneer, researchers including University of Genoa, RWTH Aachen University, Chalmers University of Technology and University of Leeds, and insurers such as Allianz and Swiss Re.

The final L3 event and conference takes place in Hamburg on 13-14 October, while the exhibition sharing results and dynamic driving demonstrations taking place all week, 11-15 October. Etemad says, “Several hundred demonstration slots are available to book. The urban route will take you on a 3km test track to see the Hamburg sights, taking in traffic lights, left/right turns, and pedestrian and cyclist awareness. We also have two different motorway routes planned.”

Smart and autonomous

Congress partner Continental will be presenting a range of systems and technologies focused on smart and autonomous mobility solutions that, says Dr Frank Foersterling, Continental’s Head of Government, Liaison & Engagement Automotive Technologies, offer the potential to “save lives and increase sustainability, efficiency and the quality of life. Our goal is to unleash the full potential of smart mobility solutions for everyone’s benefit, and that includes using the congress as a platform to foster dialogue between industries, government and public sector.”

Innovations on show include: Hamburg’s On Demand Shuttle Service, a joint activity with the Nationale Platform Zukunft der Mobilität (NPM) and other partners; customisable Automated Valet Parking (AVP) and Infrastructure Orchestrated Manoeuvring (IOM); digital access solutions that turn smartphones into vehicle keys; a low latency cloud communications solution to make traffic smarter and safer in real time; enabling Indonesia’s ShareCar hourly car rental service; and combining Continental’s core tyre expertise with digital tech through the ContiConnect and ContiPressureCheck monitoring solutions.

Digitalisation: tolling and Digital Twins

As the pace of digitalisation increases, Yunex Traffic is sharing various solutions in Hamburg, including  electronic tolling. “You can ask the question: is electronic tolling digital already?” says Sebastian Althen, Interurban & Tolling Systems at Yunex Traffic, part of Siemens. “You still see a lot of cameras and toll plazas, and in-vehicle and roadside devices. But how could it be today?” The Yunex vision is for a more engaging and dynamic user experience, including the provision of timely information prior to travel and easy payments via smartphone. “Users should also expect absolutely non-intrusive and free-flow enforcement, number plate based and with a very small hardware footprint,” Althen says.

He provides another example of the benefits of digitalisation: “When planning and building infrastructure, there’s no room for mistakes or trial-and-error, and the effects on traffic need to be as expected.” This has seen the development of Digital Twins, and in particular adding interaction and functionality to extend their application beyond asset management or design verification to enable demonstrations, proof of concepts, acceptance testing and more – “through Dynamic Twins linked to our traffic management systems. The next step is a Performance Twin: adding traffic data to enable planning and optimisation, scenario simulation and testing, and training, with VR and augmented reality helping to make it tangible. You can experience this at our booth, involving a tunnel under construction near Hamburg.”

Making the most of the World Congress

“We’re encouraging people to use the Congress app wherever possible, to get the most from their time in Hamburg – to plan sessions, arrange meetings, book places on demonstrations, and provide feedback,” says Lisa Boch-Andersen, Director of Communications, Congresses & Events, ERTICO-ITS Europe. “There is so much to experience, including over 200 technical sessions, almost 400 papers, and three plenary sessions scheduled so that everyone can attend. For the first time, we’re also running Global Forums to discuss challenges and solutions from a global perspective, in key areas like Mobility as a Service and Freight & Ports, and of course our social events.”

Tobias Brzoskowski of ITS Hamburg says, “The many tours available cover key themes such as digitising urban traffic, focused on automated and connected driving, alongside the logistics experience, mass transit, Mobility as a Service, and future rail experience. The event will also launch Hamburg’s homePORT testing and proving ground for unmanned vehicles, including aerial shows and surface vehicle demonstrations.”

The Startup Programme is another important feature, and this year welcomes 43 startups from 18 countries. It includes a dedicated area in Hall B3, networking events, four pitch sessions, panel sessions, matchmaking and social events.

Lisa Boch-Andersen adds, “It’s certainly an amazing  line up across the week, and of course taking place in a safe and secure 2G environment  in relation to the COVID rules in place. See you there!”

ERTICO-ITS Europe extends special thanks to the city of Hamburg and ITS Hamburg, and the commercial partners without whom the ITS World Congress would not be possible: Yunex Traffic, Volkswagen, DB, Google Cloud, L3 Pilot, HERE Technologies, Mercedes-Benz, Continental, Bosch, Mobileye, ZF Group, Sopra Steria, 5G Automotive Association, Volocopter, diconium, Graphmasters, Lufthansa and AKKA.

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About Author

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs in charge of public agencies around the world as well as chairmen and CEOs of multinational transportation technology corporations. Tom's early career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).