Eclipse SUMO: An Interview with Robert Hilbrich

Simulating Autonomous Vehicles and Future Mobility Concepts in Urban Areas, is an early bird pick. Learn more about the project and the presentation from Robert Hilbrich.

Q: What is Eclipse SUMO?

A: Eclipse SUMO is a microscopic transport simulator. SUMO stands for "Simulation of Urban Mobility", so it allows you to simulate the dynamics and interactions of almost all moving objects in a city, also including motorways or waterways. SUMO supports not only passenger vehicles, but also buses, trains, trams, bicycles, motorbikes, pedestrians, ships and even freight containers. SUMO is very fast. It is designed to simulate large cities like Berlin in real time. SUMO has been open source since its beginning in 2001, when the German Aerospace Center started this project in order to facilitate research in transport and mobility.


Q: In what directions do you see the technology developing?

A: There are essentially two separate aspects which are driving the future development of SUMO. On the one hand, there is an increasing desire by the users to use SUMO for testing and validating electronic control systems (e.g. transport telematics devices) as part of their engineering process. Similarly, it is also used for evaluating innovative technologies and business models in the mobility and public transport domain (e.g. shared economy business models).

On the other hand, the increasing capabilities of SUMO and its ability to interface with a variety of other simulators opens up entirely new application areas. For instance, SUMO is currently used for a real-time prediction of traffic conditions in order to optimize traffic lights in the city of Brunswick in Germany. In the Netherlands there are users, who built a SUMO based virtual tractor simulator for driving schools. Users from Italy and Sweden rely on SUMO for the development of innovative public transportation systems such as PodCars. Furthermore, there is also an increasing usage of SUMO in the road safety domain.

We are always amazed at the variety of applications in which SUMO is successfully used. In all of these use cases it becomes apparent that modeling and simulating of mobility - despite its inherent chaotic nature and complexity - is key to success for a growing number of domains.

Q: What will be SUMO's role in the openMobility Working Group?

A: SUMO provides an important platform functionality for many users from industry and academia. Therefore, there is a strong interest among the SUMO users to establish and maintain a user-driven and industry-friendly development process for the software. We think that the governance of Eclipse Working Groups provides a suitable environment for exactly this purpose. Eclipse SUMO will not be the sole Eclipse project being coordinated in the openMobility Working Group. Besides SUMO, we are also talking to the developers of VSimRTI, Veins and Plexe to join forces as part of our Working Group.

Q: Who should participate in the Working Group?

A: We would like to invite users from industry and academia with a significant and long-term interest in building a common simulation platform based on SUMO for mobility and transport applications. Users are given the chance to influence the direction that SUMO will take in the future. For this purpose, the Working Groups will contribute the necessary governance structures, so that the load of development and funding for new features in SUMO can be shared among the participants of the group.


Q: If you could imagine the openMobility WG 2 years from now, what would it look like?

A: Besides ensuring absolute world dominance? In serious terms, we want to become the leading open source platform for modeling and simulating mobility. In two years from now, the working group will consist of a variety of active users who are willing to ensure the longevity and usefulness of this platform by not only providing requirements and feedback, but also by building a vivid community and global ecosystem of tool providers. This will of course require us to collaborate closely with other Working Groups, such as for example, the openPASS Working Group.


Robert Hilbrich

Deutsches Zentrum fuer Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V. (DLR)

Robert Hilbrich

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