a few years, a new innovative test center in the area of smart mobility should be emerging in the province of Flevoland. It concerns the Smart Mobility and Infrastructure Knowledge and Test Center (MITC). Not only will new generations of electric cars be tested by the RDW here, smart mobility concepts such as drone taxis and delivery drones will also be able to test.

Smart mobility

Anyone who has landed at Lelystad airport will undoubtedly remember the large test center of the RDW next to the runway. Among other things, the test center is used to test the roadworthiness of newly introduced vehicles. But due to the expansion of Lelystad Airport, the place of this test center is at stake. Partly for this reason, a new test center at a different location in Flevoland has been considered for a long time. But a test center of this time, where it can be tested not only by road transport, but also with air transport.

This wish comes true with the construction of the new knowledge and test centre that will partly be located on the site of Koninklijke NLR in Marknesse. As part of the MITC, there will be a new test track with a length of up to 1.8 km. On this, among other things, autonomous driving cars can be tested. In addition to this test track, there will also be a simulated urban environment: DigiCity. This concerns an environment where smart mobility concepts can also be experimented in the third dimension, including drone taxis and delivery drones.

Simulated city environment

One of the parties involved in addition to NLR and RDW is the DNW Foundation (German Dutch Wind Tunnels). “DigiCity is a completely new concept. It is a simulated urban environment, where we can test the influence of the environment on a drone and vice versa. Think of influences from wind fields, radio stations, sound — and that in a flexible, controlled and safe environment,” explains DNW director Joost Hakkaart.

To achieve that, DigiCity is built up of a few dozen reconfigurable containers, which are instrumented with the necessary wind sensors and other measuring instruments. In this way, various forms of buildings can be simulated quickly. “That has not yet happened worldwide,” says Hakkaart.

Knowledge Sharing

The intention is that the MITC will become more than just a test center. For that reason, there will also be a campus with knowledge institutions and educational facilities, to facilitate knowledge development and sharing. The choice of Marknesse comes from various practical considerations: the location is quite central in the Netherlands, there is plenty of room for expansion and there is already closed airspace in connection with the nearby NLR Drone Centre.

One of the launching customers is Avy. This company is working on a large hydrogen drone for use in the urban environment. Hakkaart: “Today, such drones can only fly from pasture to pasture. In order to be able to test long-distance flights (BVLOS) in an urban environment in the future, a test center such as DigiCity is needed.” Other Dutch parties that have their name attached to MITC are, for example, PAL-V and Orange Aircraft.

As examples of smart mobility concepts that can be tested by DigiCity, Hakkaart mentions the PAL-V flying car that was developed in the Netherlands. Due to its hybrid character, this vehicle is partly certified by the RDW and partly by EASA. “But drone taxis such as EHang’s and other VTOL concepts can also be tested for cityproofness at DigiCity,” says Hakkaart.

Deal Region

The finances for the realization of the MITC come under the banner of the Region Deal Northern Flevoland partly from the Province of Flevoland, partly from the National Government. The municipality of Noordoostpolder also makes a financial contribution. DigiCity is intended to become operational as early as 2022. The RDW expects to be able to switch to the new location in 2025.

Very recently, the Police Academy has also declared its intention to become a partner of the MITC. It will be investigated whether the Centre for Enforcement and Mobility, now located next to the RDW site at Lelystad Airport, can become part of the new test center. “For the Police Academy, it is important to work well together in the field of training and training on mobility. We already do this in different places in the Netherlands. We see it as a big advantage that this is now also possible near the current location in Lelystad,” says Gerrit den Uyl, director of the Police Academy.