Research News



Drivers happy to take long way round to avoid traffic stress +++ Saving energy in subway stations +++ Making electric vehicles smaller and more comfortable

Drivers happy to take long way round to avoid traffic stress

German motorists are willing to accept longer journey times and even detours if it means helping to ease the general traffic situation. This emerged from a recent user study carried out by the Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems FOKUS in cooperation with the Technische Universität Berlin. Of 120 motorists who agreed to provide information about their driving habits and attitudes towards road traffic, two-thirds said they would rather have a stress-free trip even if it meant adding over three minutes to their journey, and 75 percent said they would even be willing to take a detour. In order to put this willingness to cooperate to good use, researchers at FOKUS are developing automotive communication technologies that will guide motorists around streets in a manner that evens out traffic flows and produces environmentally friendly traffic patterns.

For example, the scientists are working on solutions that will help motorists avoid traffic jams and take routes that result in the smallest amount of exhaust emissions by means of advance traffic warnings and driving recommendations sent to their navigation system or smartphone. FOKUS is a partner in the EU’s “TEAM” project, which develops technologies for collaborative traffic management.

Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems FOKUS
Kaiserin-Augusta-Allee 31 | 10589 Berlin |
Contact: Dr. Ilja Radusch | Phone +49 30 3463-7474 |
Press: Naira Danielyan | Phone +49 30 3463-7362 |

Saving energy in subway stations

As well as being the backbone of urban public transport systems, subways are also major consumers of energy. For example, the entire underground train network in Barcelona consumes around 63.1 million kWh a year. A third of the total energy is used to operate subsystems in the subway stations, such as air conditioning, escalators, elevators, and lighting. If it were possible to reduce energy consumption by just a few percent, this would save an impressive quantity of electricity. The goal of the EU’s SEAM4US project is therefore to develop sustainable energy management technologies that will reduce the energy requirements of subsystems. The solution involves integrating additional measuring devices and sensor-actuator networks into the subsystems. The requisite user, environment, and time data will be recorded using specially developed middleware. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology FIT in the German town of Sankt Augustin are coordinating the system development activities within the project team. They are also responsible for integration of the different technologies into the SEAM4US platform.

The SEAM4US system is currently being installed and tested in the “Passeig de Gràcia” subway station in Barcelona. This transport hub is one of the busiest stations in the Catalan capital. If five percent was shaved off the energy consumption of Barcelona’s underground train network, this would save enough electricity to power about 700 households. According to the experts at the FIT, savings on this scale are a thoroughly realizable prospect with the new energy management system.

Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology FIT
Schloss Birlinghoven | 53757 Sankt Augustin |
Contact: Dr. Markus Eisenhauer | Phone +49 2241 14-2859 |
Press: Alex Deeg | Phone +49 2241 14-2208 |

Making electric vehicles smaller and more comfortable

The vehicle looks like an electric scooter and zooms by almost without a sound. Its driver masters tight corners first and then safely brakes to a halt. He doesn’t need to put his feet on the ground because the two rear wheels provide plenty of stability. Daniel Borrmann is satisfied with the first test drive of the Electromobile City Scooter. The new three-wheeled electric vehicle from the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO in Stuttgart is designed to open up new possibilities for the urban transportation of tomorrow. “Although electric scooters offer many advantages, a lot of motorists either cannot or do not want to make the switch for trips into town. They simply lack the experience of traveling on two wheels,” says Borrmann. This is exactly where the Electromobile City Scooter comes in.

Thanks to the additional wheel on the rear axle combined with a special chassis, the electric vehicle manages to be both stable and nimble. To enable it to lean into curves despite having two rear wheels, the IAO researchers suspended the rear wheels separately and supported them in the frame by means of air springs. In fact, the model is scarcely any wider than a regular two-wheeled scooter. Following initial drafts, the scientists worked out detailed specifications, which the engineering firm GreenIng subsequently implemented on a conventional two-wheeled electric scooter. “We demonstrated that our idea works on a real scooter. In the next step, we want to make the vehicle even more comfortable. For example, by means of systems for riding helmet-free, for protecting riders from the elements, and for luggage storage,” says Borrmann, summarizing his team’s objectives, before getting back on the scooter and zipping off into a new round of tests to the sound of the engine’s gentle hum.

Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO
Nobelstr. 12 | 70569 Stuttgart |
Contact: Daniel Borrmann | Phone +49 711 970-2030 |
Press: Juliane Segedi | Phone +49 711 970-2124 |

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