Research highlights from Fraunhofer IVI

© Fraunhofer IVI
Bus with fast-charging system.

Fast-charging electric bus EDDA

Steadily rising gas prices, an increasing desire for detachment from the turmoil on international raw materials markets and the obligation to save both the local environment and the global climate: these are the main reasons for communities, public transport providers and transport associations to develop new concepts for the operation of electric buses.

These buses used to operate by means of a linear energy supply via catenaries (trolleybuses), except for very few niche applications. By now, concepts have been developed and applied in practice, which are based on on-board energy storages that can be recharged in regular intervals without catenaries.

The Fraunhofer IVI’s fast-charging electric bus is based on this concept. With a high-performance charging station, the compact Lithium-polymer battery can be recharged via a pantograph during passenger exchange in just 4.5 minutes. This so-called DockingPrinciple was born at the institute a few years ago and has since been constantly improved. The components and technologies for fully-electric operation were developed in cooperation with several partners within a research project funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The concept has already been tested in regular operation on highly frequented bus lines in Dresden and Leipzig. These tests have shown that the recharging process does not affect the schedule. The fast-charging electric bus thus integrates excellently into the long tradition of public transport in Dresden.

© Fraunhofer IVI
autartec® house.

Autonomous living in floating homes

Floating homes are becoming increasingly popular in Germany – not only as holiday homes, but also as permanent residences. In the coming years, this way of life of living on water can help boost the attractiveness and economy of less appealing regions, such as the former coal-mining region Lausitz in Saxony. This is also the objective of the autartec® project, in which research institutes as well as SMEs and industrial enterprises are developing a floating home that will not only look elegant, but which is also able to provide for its own water, electricity and heat.

The house combines modern architecture and structural engineering with state-of-the-art equipment and building facilities. The research activities of the Fraunhofer IVI focus on structurally integrable storage elements. In this field, the institute can contribute extensive experience in battery storage development. In order to save space, the battery systems are integrated into the textile concrete walls or into the stair elements. Researchers at the institute are also working on the efficient provision of heating and cooling systems

© Fraunhofer IVI
AutoTram® Extra Grand.

AutoTram® Extra Grand

As an intermediate public transport vehicle, it combines features of conventional buses (e.g. high flexibility, low infrastructure costs and moderate life cycle costs) with the advantages of trams like high transport capacity, driving comfort and the possibility of partial emission-free operation. The multi-unit vehicle with rubber tires is more than 30 meters long and has a capacity of 250 passengers. It has been developed and constructed within the research program »Innovative Regionale Wachstumskerne«, which was initiated by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

The AutoTram® Extra Grand can be driven fully electrically over a longer distance, is flexibly operable on diverse routes, and, perhaps most importantly, the costs for acquisition and operating are only half as high as those of trams. Therefore, the AutoTram® Extra Grand is especially well suited for urban areas and mega cities with a fast-growing demand for transportation. One feature of special importance is the excellent maneuverability of the double-articulated, over 30 m-long vehicle. Due to its novel joint and gangway systems in combination with an electronic multi-axle steering system, it is almost swept path-free in curves, both in forward and in reverse drive. With its turning circle of 12.5 meters, which is extremely small considering its length, the AutoTram® Extra Grand meets the registration criteria for road vehicles in public transport.

In an EU-funded project, the Fraunhofer IVI and several partners are currently investigating and demonstrating how the length of this multi-unit vehicle can be adapted according to demand. This offers even more flexibility in daily operation.

© Fraunhofer IVI

Mobility support in emergency and disaster situations – MobiKat

In the field of emergency response, complex strategic and operative-tactical decisions have to be made constantly. This applies for large-scale disasters as well as for large events and the daily operation. To support these processes effectively, the Fraunhofer IVI has developed the MobiKat technology in collaboration with experts and responders from fire departments, emergency services and police.

MobiKat efficiently supports command staff, operations management and relief forces on site. The universal IT system offers visualization of infrastructure, optimized resource selection and operational planning and command for fire engines and emergency vehicles as well as disposition, vehicle route planning and planning of fire safety requirements. Functionalities also include the visualization of the operational picture, offering decision support in real time. To obtain live information from hazardous areas, autonomous cameras with wireless data transmission and a zoom factor of 18 were developed and have since been applied in practice many times. Their independent power supply lasts for several days and they are remotely controllable. In the field of prevention, the system supports authorities in analyses, risk assessment and concept development. MobiKat has proven itself in practice during various large-scale events as well as in hazardous situations and natural disasters.

© Fraunhofer IVI

Intelligent transport systems / synchronized mobility / connected driving

In the animal kingdom, the swarm behavior of birds, fish or gregarious animals shows how a multitude of individuals can move effectively and fluently in a very confined space. The intelligent transport systems of the future will take this kind of behavior as a reference point. The Fraunhofer IVI drives these developments in several research projects.

Besides autonomous driving functions in private and public transport, the focus is on the optimization of traffic flows for reducing pollutant emissions and the increase of traffic density for the optimal utilization of infrastructure capacities. The Fraunhofer IVI offers a number of competencies for realizing this vision. In the field of vehicle engineering, a steer-by-wire technology was applied successfully in several test platforms. The development of sensors for lane and obstacle recognition by camera, radar and laser, but also the evaluation of assistance systems are important for autonomous driving. The objective is to create an efficient and safe interaction between human and vehicle.

The city of Dresden is a most suitable location for developing and testing these technologies. In 2016, Dresden was announced one out of six cities nationwide that receive funding by the federal government for building up an urban digital test field for autonomous driving. With the » Synchronized Mobility 2023« pilot project as well as the recently initiated research cooperation with the US state of Nevada, Saxony is well-positioned and connected in the field of Intelligent Transport Systems.

© Fraunhofer IVI

Navigation and mobile ticketing in public transport

Being able to find one’s way within the transport network of big cities, to individually choose the means of transport and to be guided to one’s destination reliably and independent from  vehicle changes and interruptions – that is the concept of the public transport navigation system developed by the Fraunhofer IVI. Based on conventional connection information systems, which are enhanced by real-time data, the solution offers passengers a real navigation. This means that users are able to move freely without any previous knowledge of either the public transport network or its schedules. As the users’ location is constantly monitored, they will be reliably guided to their destination using different means of transport. The functioning is similar to that of a conventional navigation system for cars, as it reacts to the users’ movements and dynamically calculates a new route to the destination, for example in the case of alterations in the provider’s operating conditions. In addition to smartphone apps, the Fraunhofer IVI has integrated the technology into wearable devices and demonstrated this application successfully. The smartwatch navigation offers even more convenience and freedom of movement for public transport users.

To offer holistic services to public transport passengers, the institute has been active in the research field of ticketing and fares for many years. The HandyTicket system is well known in Germany. Customers can get information on routes and connections via the integrated interfaces, choose their tickets and receive them directly on their mobile phones. They no longer have to rely on conventional ticket machines, instead they can buy their tickets at home or on the way and board buses or trams without any waiting times or worries about sufficient small change for paper tickets.

A major research focus is on the integration of the different services into user-friendly applications. The interplay of navigation technologies and ticketing simplifies using public transport and reduces barriers to change to bus and trams. Dynamic changes of different fares within a transport association have to be taken into consideration as well. With the Fraunhofer IVI’s fare calculator software, the costumer pays a fair prize for a safe and comfortable trip.