Greater Magdeburg Area Becomes a Model Region for Smart Mobility

Thomas Webel, Minister for Regional Development and Transport (le.), hands the grant notice in the Experimental Factory on the Magdeburg university campus over to Prof Dr Eng Jens Strackeljan, University Rector (ri.).
©Stefan Rakebrand / Universität Magdeburg

The University of Magdeburg Receives Multi-Million Grant for Developing New Passenger & Goods Transport Solutions

Over the coming three years, scientists of the Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg will intensively work on making the larger Magdeburg area become a model region for Smart Mobility. Using a multi-million grant from the State Ministry of Transport, engineers, computer scientists, environmental psychologists, social scientists, logisticians and network experts will jointly develop and try out intelligent mobility concepts, such as call services for autonomous micro-mobiles, test the use of driverless shuttles buses, optimise the interaction of innovative means of transport with existing infrastructures and perform acceptance research.

As an example, it is intended to establish a passenger transport and logistics traffic network in the state capital of Saxony-Anhalt as a major metropolis with a large rural catchment area and the related challenges by 2022, which will enable and regulate the communication between traffic participants, vehicles and the entire traffic infrastructure intelligently and in real time. Another crucial factor is the question of how traffic and energy networks can be coupled with each other.

Today, Thomas Webel, the Minister for Regional Development and Transport of the state of Saxony-Anhalt, handed the grant notices for four projects covered by the Intelligent Traffic Systems (IVS - Intelligente Verkehrssysteme) support programmes of the EU over to researchers of the University of Magdeburg.

“The advantage of the Magdeburg area as a model region is, above all, the total of all disadvantages,” says Dr Stephan Schmidt, Junior Professor at the University’s Institute of Mobile Systems, who has now been granted EUR 4.2 million for the further development of an on-call service for autonomous e-cargo bikes. “The Magdeburg region is a big city and has no conurbation, but is surrounded by rural areas: poor infrastructure, no connections to local public transport, immobile rural residents without the tendency to or even possibilities for digitalisation. Developing solutions to these issues is a major challenge.”

As part of this supported AuRa - Flexible Use of Autonomous Bike Systems for Logistics and Transport Activities project, the mechanical engineer will establish an on-call service for a fleet of autonomous e-bikes in Magdeburg’s city centre near the campus which can be called via an app and will then independently navigate to the user. In collaboration with computer scientists, logisticians, sociologists, business economists, environmental psychologists, traffic planners and insurance companies, Stephan Schmidt and his team want to develop and operate up to 10 autonomous three-wheeled e-cargo bikes by 2022 to ensure that they will complement the short-distance public and individual transport in an ecologically and economically effective manner and will be applied in a bike sharing system with bike call function in the surroundings of the university campus.

The project mainly addresses the so-called “last mile” of the passenger public transport system and is intended to improve the access to the public traffic system, in particular for disadvantaged users such as the elderly and people with reduced mobility.

Starting point for the project is a mobility app via which the user sends his or her specific request for mobility to a master computer. This computer forms the interface to existing mobility systems and assesses the feasibility of the request. Where no suitable offer exists, the traffic participant is informed and a specifically configured bike is autonomously sent to the user's location. Having reached his or her destination, the cyclist parks the e-bike there. The bike, in turn, switches to the autonomous mode, returns to the station or is available for a further request.

“This could make Magdeburg a pioneer in the use of small, environmentally friendly autonomous vehicles already in 2020,” says Schmidt. “Maybe self-driving bikes autonomously moving through the city's famous Breite Weg between the main station and the university campus will then become a natural part of the cityscape.”

In the case of the GATEmobil - Mobile Galileo Test Field of Saxony-Anhalt project of the University of Magdeburg, EUR 1.6 million serve to develop the state’s first mobile test fields. Mobile digital test fields allow to digitally try out autonomous mobility applications in real time in real-life conditions.

Using previous studies on communications between vehicles and traffic infrastructures as a basis, scientists work on systems that collect traffic information like jams or road works in real time and forward it to traffic participants or their vehicles. Starting from the already ongoing project to provide roadside emergency telephones near motorways with related sensors, mobile test routes are set up both in the urban and in the rural area as part of GATEmobil.

The focus here is placed on topics such as energy efficiency and CO2 reduction to achieve the climate goals of the state of Saxony-Anhalt.

As part of the AS-NaSA - Automated Shuttle Buses - Saxony-Anhalt Benefit Analysis project, the state provides approx. EUR 400,000 to support a study investigating both the benefit and the acceptance of automated shuttle buses in the local public transport system of Saxony-Anhalt. In order to perform an analysis based on real driving experiences, the scientists plan to establish a test operation on pilot routes as from 2020, inter alia between the Science Port and the campus of the Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg.

For the Talk to Me - intelligent Communications of Road Side Units with Vehicles project, the logisticians receive a grant total of approx. EUR 350,000 to monitor the communications of traffic infrastructure, e.g. light signal systems, with vehicles. As from 2020, radio stations are intended to be installed in urban areas whose signals will be captured by passing vehicles, providing them with information on the traffic flow. By adapting the driving behaviour accordingly, the ultimate goal is to avoid unnecessary acceleration or braking, thus reducing fuel consumption, pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions.

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