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“Germany must wake up to the worldwide mobility competition”
The Technical University of Munich (TUM) is supporting German Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure Andreas Scheuer’s plan to establish a German Center Mobility of the Future (“Deutsches Zentrum Mobilität der Zukunft”) in Munich. TUM President Thomas F. Hofmann said that a joint innovation strategy without interdisciplinary, institutional or intellectual limitations is the only way for Germany to help steer the race to achieve the technological development of sustainable future mobility.
The German Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure has announced that a center with approximately 200 experts from science and business will be located in Munich, with the objective of researching and developing mobility systems viable for the future. Funded with 500 million euros, the research center should have several new academic chairs and will be linked with a practice-oriented campus. It should integrate research and development on climate-friendly and digitally networked mobility as well as optimize future-oriented technologies, products and services and validate them for market readiness.
“The Minister of Transport sends an important signal at exactly the right point in time,” says Prof. Thomas F. Hofmann, President of TUM. “The mobility sector, with its traditional German economic and innovative power, is faced with the epic task of leveraging the digital challenges of future mobility as new opportunities. The world will no longer wait for Germany in this race. Germany must wake up to the international competition for technology leadership in future mobility. We must consolidate our expertise and establish a zone of strength that shines internationally.” TUM is ready to join the new center with the valuable contribution of its internationally anchored expertise in key innovation fields for sustainable and digitally connected mobility systems.
On the road to “Space Valley”
TUM bundles its cross-disciplinary expertise in autonomous, connected and electric driving in Integrative Research Centers like the Munich School of Engineering and the Munich School of Robotics and Machine Intelligence to promote integrated, sustainable developments in transportation. TUM’s electric vehicles MUTE, EVA and aCar have already proven its expertise in developing innovative vehicles for a variety of continents and climate zones all the way to market readiness. This has earned TUM a pioneer position in electro-mobility research in recent years. TUM works together with its affiliated institute UnternehmerTUM, designated Digital Hub Mobility by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology in 2016, to generate innovative start-ups, for example Invenox (electric energy storage) and Evum (electric utility vehicle aCar).
The new TUM Department of Aerospace, Aeronautics and Geodesy in Taufkirchen / Ottobrunn near Munich focuses its research and teaching activities on the entire spectrum of airborne mobility. As a part of Bavaria’s Hightech Agenda the department will expand to over 50 professorships to become “Space Valley”. It will be a innovation center in areas such as flying taxis, Hyperloop transport technology and regenerative fuels made from algae. Existing close ties to the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Oberpfaffenhofen will be further intensified. And scientists at the TUM Campus Straubing for Biotechnology and Sustainability conduct research on synthetic fuels based on renewable resources. The Cluster of Excellence e-conversion networks nanosciences and energy sciences and researches innovations in energy conversion and storage for a stable, efficient and sustainable energy supply.
Socially compatible innovations
TUM contributes these areas of expertise to internationally leading partnerships such as the EU-subsidized Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC) Urban Mobility, whose German innovation node is based in Munich, and the lighthouse project TUM CREATE in Singapore. Here companies and research institutes collaborate to develop innovative sustainable solutions for future-oriented metropolitan planning and intelligent urban mobility concepts.
Human-centered, socially compatible and trustworthy innovations in future mobility call for a holistic approach that goes well beyond technological developments. TUM effectively integrates economic, societal, political, legal and ethical aspects in the innovation processes that lead to new mobility concepts with the TUM School of Management, TUM School of Governance, the Munich Center for Technology in Society (MCTS) and the TUM Institute for Ethics in Artificial Intelligence.
Strategic innovation culture in Munich
The Munich metropolitan region has an incredibly high density of expertise in the fields of mobility and digitalization in science, business, politics and society, including a large number of regional players such as LMU, DLR, Audi, BMW, MAN, Deutsche Bahn, the Munich Public Transit Agency (Münchner Verkehrsgesellschaft), Munich airport and the Bavarian State capital in Munich. “But only a strategic, mission-driven innovation culture that brings these players together at a regional level to develop the mobility of tomorrow and which is free of interdisciplinary, institutional and intellectual limitations can pave the way to the future for us,” says TUM President Hofmann. “The Federal Minister’s initiative creates unique opportunities for the holistic research of the mobility of the future, to formulate scalable model solutions for mobility in growing urban spaces, to test them in a living mobility lab for example at the Garching Campus and to make it possible for citizens to experience it.”
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