Energy for the hydrogen robot H2Bot

August 23, 2023 | Commissioning of the energy cell opens up new test possibilities for sustainable fruit-growing and horticulture

© Fraunhofer IVI | Holger Fichtl
The energy cell of the robot H2Bot was successfully implemented.

Smaller vehicles, such as machines used in fruit-growing, viticulture or horticulture, are particularly suitable for the electrification of agriculture. To date, however, there has been little experience of using fuel cell technology in such vehicles. With the recent commissioning of the energy cell of the hydrogen-powered agricultural robot H2Bot, new opportunities to test this technology in practice are opening up.

The energy cell is a joint development of TU Dresden, Chair of Agricultural Systems and Technology (AST), and Fraunhofer IVI as part of the project »Requirements for hydrogen drives for agricultural use« (in short: H2Bot). For the implementation, TU Dresden provided the autonomously driving robot ELWOBOT for vineyards and fruit plantages, and was in charge of the technical development of the energy cell. Fraunhofer IVI was responsible for the hazard analysis and risk assessment as well as the development of the electronic control of the energy cell. The core of the energy cell is a hydrogen-powered fuel cell from Proton Motor Fuel Cell GmbH, which provides electrical energy with an output of between 7 and 33 kW. At a pressure of 350 bar, H2Bot can carry up to 2.6 kg of hydrogen in two pressure tanks. As a range extender, the energy cell charges the agricultural robot's electrical energy storage system as needed.

Practical tests later on in the project will examine the interaction between the energy storage system and the energy cell, as well as recharging, in greater detail. In addition, field tests are planned to test the energy cell and the agricultural robot. On of the major objectives is to enable assessments about the transferability to other electrified equipment in agriculture. As a follow-up to the project, other machines could be equipped with fuel cell systems based on the same principle.

Agricultural robot CAESAR to become part of the Feldschwarm network

July 26, 2023 | Follow-up project on automation in farming

© Fraunhofer IVI

Last week, the company InnoTrac2020 GmbH delivered their remote-controllable equipment carrier system called CAESAR to Fraunhofer IVI. This novel farming machine will be adapted by institute researchers for fully automated application in fruit farming.

The work carried out on CAESAR will also serve to expand the concepts for agricultural robotics developed within the Feldschwarm (field swarm) research project. To this end, the machine will be integrated into the existing network of Feldschwarm units using the helyOS® control tower software also developed at Fraunhofer IVI. This way, CAESAR serves as a demonstrator for the Feldschwarm ÖkoSystem (field swarm ecosystem) project, which has recently been launched as a follow-up project carried out within a RUBIN collaboration between industry and research institutions.

A major focus of this and further projects in the field of agricultural robotics is the analysis of security risks occurring within this domain. Another crucial topic is the development of safety concepts for fully automated agricultural machines in terms of functional safety, cyber security and the so-called safety of the intended function (SOTIF). In these contexts, CAESAR will make valuable contributions to the testing, verification and validation of the aforementioned concepts.

ALBACOPTER® drive system proves robust in the wind tunnel

July, 2023 | First measuring campaign at the TU Dresden aerodynamic test facility

© Fraunhofer ICT

In July, the ALBACOPTER® team conducted the project‘s first measuring campaign in a wind tunnel. The campaign’s aim was to test different drive configurations for the ALBACOPTER® 0.5 in full scale under wind load.

This constituted a stress test especially for the drive kinematics, which is responsible for pivoting the rotors by 90° in order to switch between the vertical and horizontal flight phases. At maximum thrust and a wind speed of 100 km/h, the drive system passed the stress test successfully. Additional parameters measured included horizontal and vertical forces, the electrical current and temperature of the e-motors, as well as vibrations and natural frequencies occurring within the overall system.

A second measuring campaigned is scheduled for September. In it, a wing segment will be added to the setup for the purpose of investigating the interaction of the propellers’ air flow with the wing.

© Fraunhofer ICT
© Fraunhofer ICT

TraffIRNet research project brings basic technologies for automated driving to the roads

July 10, 2023 | Smart traffic sensing on the test track

© THI / Severin Mantel-Lehrer
Networked sensor boxes containing an infrared camera, a radar unit, a data processor and a 5G modem.

Intelligent traffic sensing and vehicle communication for autonomous driving (Vehicle-to-everything, V2X) require dynamic traffic information in real time. This means that data-collection sensors, communication technologies, as well as data fusion and traffic model creation algorithms are paramount. In the TraffIRNet (Traffic Infrared Radar Network) research project, the Fraunhofer Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Internet Technologies CCIT is exploring the potential of the 5G mobile radio standard in collective and scalable traffic sensing using a multi-access edge computing (MEC) network.

 continue reading the press release

© Fraunhofer IVI
© Fraunhofer IVI
© Fraunhofer IVI

Conventional field machines and agricultural robots to operate in swarms

July 3, 2023 | Hardware and software for automation in agriculture

© Fraunhofer IVI

The start of the Feldschwarm® Ökosystem (field swarm ecosystem) project was officially announced during a kick-off event celebrated within the scope of the simul+ »Autonomous Mobile Work Machines« Forum at Proschwitz Castle near Meißen. The project was initiated by a so-called RUBIN alliance, in which regional enterprises cooperate with universities and scientific institutions to generate application-oriented innovations.

Feldschwarm® Ökosystem aims to realize for the first time the automated operation of multiple field machines and agricultural robots at the same time. The users, who will be able to monitor the work progress on fields and intervene at any time, are the application’s focus points.

In the next three years, 13 project partners from industry and science are going to develop hardware and a comprehensive IT control architecture that integrate innovative systems for the semi-autonomous control of multiple field machines. In addition, they will investigate new technologies and methods in the fields of artificial intelligence, remote and process monitoring as well as data security for failure-free operation. The innovative control systems will be integrated into both conventional field machines and novel agricultural robots across different manufacturers. The systems will then be tested for effectiveness and economic efficiency in mixed operation on fields.

Within the project, which is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Fraunhofer IVI is developing a control tower architecture for agricultural applications that can be used as a free software for networking (field) machinery across manufacturers. In addition, the institute contributes its competencies in the field of security and propulsion systems for automated agricultural systems.

Dresden Science Night at Fraunhofer IVI

June 30, 2023 | Exciting interactive program for the anniversary Science Night

© Fraunhofer IVI

“Schlaugemacht bis Mitternacht!“ (Get smart by midnight!) Under this motto, numerous universities, research institutions, and science-related companies opened their doors, laboratories, lecture halls, and archives to the public once again for the Dresden Science Night – this year marking the 20th anniversary. For Dresden, it was the most successful Science Night to date, with a nationwide record of 48,000 visitors and more scheduled events than ever before.

Fraunhofer IVI offered a diverse program for young and old and proudly welcomed 980 curious guests on its spacious premises. The researchers presented current topics and projects related to safety – including a technology for operational command, a tiny house for use in disaster situations, and innovative solutions for accident prevention with children and adolescents. Technology enthusiasts enjoyed demonstrations of the field robot CERES and two autonomously driving lawn mowers. Young visitors got the chance to make little gifts at the crafts table or engage in a fun game.

We would like to thank all visitors for their interest in our institute and look forward to the next Science Night!

Intelligent infrastructure increases the safety of vulnerable road users

June 20 to 21, 2023 | 8th National Cycling Congress

© Fraunhofer IVI
© Fraunhofer IVI
© Fraunhofer IVI

At the 8th National Cycling Congress held in Frankfurt / Main from June 20 to 21, experts from different municipal departments and administrative levels met with representatives from politics, science, economy and practical users.

Here at Germany's most important congress on cycling, relevant questions concerning the implementation of bycicle traffic were discussed. In addition to questions of how to design appropriate roadscapes, aspects of digitalization, safety and networking were the event's core topics.

Fraunhofer IVI employees presented their »smart intersection«, an approach to protecting vulnerable road users (VRU) developed within the Fraunhofer Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Internet Technologies CCIT. By this approach, VRUs are detected and classified with the help of infrastructure. Subsequently, all traffic participants receive notification of the detected VRUs via V2X communications so that they can adapt their behavior accordingly. Notifications are transmitted via dedicated warnings and via direct infrastructure assistance actions.

The approach was summarized and presented in an academic paper with the title »How can the »smart intersection« protect vulnerable road users (such as foot and bicycle traffic)?« (»Wie kann die »intelligente Kreuzung« verletzliche Verkehrsteilnehmer (wie den Fuß- und Radverkehr) schützen?«). The presentation was given by Dr. Thomas Otto within the scope of a session called »Bicycles in smart cities – When the infrastructure is talking to your bike« (»Das Fahrrad in der Smart City – wenn die Infrastruktur mit dem Fahrrad spricht«).


High-tech for lawns

June 18 to 20, 2023 | Fully automated RC mower fleet at the demopark trade show

© Fraunhofer IVI
Two AS 940 Sherpa 4WD mowers on the Fraunhofer IVI test track

At this year’s demopark trade show held from June 18 to 20 in Hörselberg close to Eisenach, AS-Motor, Fraunhofer IVI and Sensor-Technik Wiedemann GmbH will present three professional RC riding mowers that are capable to work together on lawns in a fully automated way – even on rough terrain. The partners will show how one »driver« can control and monitor three riding mowers of the type AS 940 Sherpa 4WD RC, thus covering triple the usual area and working more precisely and in a less tiresome way. Depending on the concrete application case, drivers can operate the mower fleet directly on site or remotely, for example, from their office.

One key technology included is the helyOS® (highly efficient online yard Operating System) control tower software that was created at Fraunhofer IVI with the goal of efficiently developing, testing and operating autonomous, mobile machines. In small projects just as in large ones, helyOS® acts as a central node for connecting, controlling and monitoring of vehicles fleets via a local network or the Cloud. It is already possible to connect and automatically control trucks and agricultural machines with the help of the helyOS® control tower software. Now, the digital control tower is able to deliver missions for professional mowers, too.

High-Voltage Megawatt Charging System for Heavy-Duty and Passenger Vehicles

© Fraunhofer IVI

The battery charging infrastructure for electric heavy-duty and passenger vehicles plays a decisive role in a successful transition towards climate-friendly transport. As the required charging powers increase, so do the battery and charging voltages. The joint project "HV-MELA-BAT", coordinated by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, aims to develop both the necessary power electronic converters and a contact system for high currents and voltages. A buffer storage is to ensure full charging power even at grid connection points with power limitations. The project partners are Motion Control & Power Electronics GmbH, STS Spezial-Transformatoren Stockach GmbH, Mercedes-Benz Energy GmbH and the Fraunhofer Institute for Transportation and Infrastructure Systems IVI.

Within the research project, Fraunhofer IVI is developing a semi-automatic contact connection capable of MCS (Multi Cable Systems). Semi-automatic means that initially, the plug is inserted into the socket manually or automatically, and only afterwards, an actuator inside the plug establishes the contact in the form of a front contact. The system is complemented by an air cooling system that acts directly on the electrical contact point, taking advantage of the maximum available temperature difference.

Automotive Week Helmond: Intermediate demonstration event in European MAGPIE project

April 18, 2023 | helyOS® controls an automated truck

© Fraunhofer IVI
© Fraunhofer IVI

How can logistics in ports be made more sustainable with the help of clean energy? Intelligent solutions in the field of digitalization and automation are the key – solutions such as the helyOS® control tower software framework that serves to quickly implement projects in yard automation. At MAGPIE project’s intermediate demonstration event (MAGPIE – sMArt Green Ports as Integrated Efficient multimodal hubs), the system developed at Fraunhofer IVI once again proved its effectiveness. The event held within the scope of the 2023 Automotive Week in Helmond, the Netherlands, on April 16. to 19, helyOS® was equipped with map, route and path planning microservices to allow the control of an automated DAF truck. The impressive demonstration was achieved in collaboration with the MAGPIE partners – an important step on the European road towards CO2-free freight transport in, to and from ports until the year 2050.

impactEES: A program for the comprehensive calculation of collisions

April 18, 2023 | Solution presented at 2023 ESV

© Fraunhofer IVI

impactEES, a collision calculation program developed at Fraunhofer IVI, was presented at the International Technical Conference on the Enhanced Safety of Vehicles (ESV) in Yokohama. The software is the result of previous long-term research in the field of accident reconstruction and simulation. The work was funded in part by ADAC Stiftung and carried out mainly in collaboration with Toyota Motor Europe, AUDI, Euro NCAP and ADAC Technikzentrum.

Based on deformation energy models (EES models), impactEES estimates the acceleration profiles of vehicles involved in a crash. Through temporally resolved simulation, it is possible to calculate deformations, speeds and further technical collision gravity parameters. These parameters are important metrics for the development and evaluation of future vehicle safety systems. The operatio of impactEES, therefore, constitutes a contribution to increasing road safety. 

Driving test: Autonomous car independently detects danger

April 12, 2023 | Safety-critical driving scenario succesfully tested

© Fraunhofer IVI

On the »First Mile« test field in Ingolstadt, self-driving Twizy ANTON mastered a typical driving scenario. This means that another milestone within the field of cooperative, connected and automated mobility (CCAM) has been reached. »We want to show how future connected and automated traffic will increase safety. The infrastructure sensor technology detects oncoming traffic and gives the vehicle the message whether the road is clear and it can safely avoid an obstacle or overtake a vehicle in front,« said Professor Dr Gordon Elger, head of the Fraunhofer Application Center »Connected Mobility and Infrastructure«.

The test was carried out jointly by scholars of Technische Hochschule Ingolstadt and the Fraunhofer Application Center. The test was based partly on the results of the IN2Lab research project that aims to develop a system providing safety for automated driving functionalities via a combination of infrastructure sensors, car2X communications, and a mission control unit.

Fraunhofer ALBACOPTER® Lighthouse Project presented to the UAM community

March 29, 2023 | Demonstrator meeting in Manching

© Fraunhofer IVI

The Fraunhofer ALBACOPTER® Lighthouse Project counts raises great attention both within Fraunhofer and with external stakeholders. On March 29, 2023, two years into the project, a meeting directed at numerous industry representatives was held in Manching, a town close to Ingolstadt that has favorable conditions for and a long-standing tradition in the field of aviation. The meeting's focus topics  were materials and aerodynamic structures, energy storage and propulsion engineering, autonomous flight, and digital twin mapping.

With the help of several demonstrators, the current state of developments was presented to the expert audience from the fields of aviation, autonomous mobility, energy storage systems, sensor development and Urban Air Mobility networks. In addition to exciting speeches and discussions over the technical exhibits, the guests had the opportunity to experience the vision of the ALBACOPTER 0.5 and 1.0 experimental platforms in virtual reality.

Sensor box for scalable traffic analysis installed in Rosenheim

April 11, 2023 | TraffIRNet project to implement sensor networks

© Fraunhofer IVI

Within the Fraunhofer Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Internet Technologies CCIT, Fraunhofer IVI and internal partners collaborate in the TraffIRNet project to establish sensor networks for traffic analysis. In the process, a sensor box for traffic analysis and optimization via infrastructure-based sensors was created at the Fraunhofer Application Center »Connected Mobility and Infrastructure« in Ingolstadt. Last month, the box was installed in a road in Rosenheim. Its raw data transmission was studied with the help of the 5G Bavaria Automotive Testbed.

All project topics are described in detail in an article by the Bavarian State Ministry of Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy.

Rethinking road safety training: change of perspective thanks to VR

March 13, 2023 | Ideas for immersive and interactive road safety training in Fraunhofer's Magazine and podcast

© wildstyle network

In 2021, around 22,000 children between the ages of six and 15 were injured in road traffic accidents. For several years, Fraunhofer IVI has been working to change these accident statistics for the better. The focus is particularly on ten- to 15-year-olds – they are "the forgotten age group" in road safety education. To improve road safety among children and adolescents and make them aware of the associated daily dangers, researchers at the institute developed the Fraunhofer IVI Accident Prevention School (FAPS). FAPS is a prevention course specifically aimed at young people, which is intended to provoke sustainably effective "aha" experiences through real accident data from the children's school environment and the use of new technologies such as virtual reality.

The article "Out of the danger zone" in the new issue of Fraunhofer Magazine looks at the approaches in detail. In addition, traffic psychologist Nora Strauzenberg and accident researcher Dr. Christian T. Erbsmehl appeared as guests on the Fraunhofer podcast. In this episode, they explain the underlying idea how children can safely slip into the perspective of truck drivers, and how cooperation with schools can succeed.

Establishing Design as an Integral Component in Research and Development

March 10, 2023 | Inauguration of the joint Fraunhofer and TU Dresden DesignLab in Dresden

© Fraunhofer IVI

In its various disciplines and manifestations, design is increasingly gaining importance in Fraunhofer's research. Supporting this trend, the three Fraunhofer Institutes IVI, IWS and IWU in Dresden, together with Technische Universität Dresden, are establishing the "DesignLab for Applied Research" on behalf of the research community. Based in the Saxon state capital, the DesignLab will conduct design research in collaboration with all Fraunhofer institutes across the country, with plans to extend this work to the international level in the future. The DesignLab was officially inaugurated on March 8, 2023.

Saxon platform simul+

January 31, 2023 | Meeting with regional network partners at Fraunhofer IVI

© Fraunhofer IVI

»Future. Bringing it TOGETHER!« - this is the credo of the Saxon platform simul+: networking people to jointly develop visions and achieve added value for Saxon regions.

This was also the motto of the simul+ meeting on January 31, 2023 with regional network partners at Fraunhofer IVI. After initial words of welcome from the Saxon State Minister for Regional Development, Thomas Schmidt, Institute Director Prof. Dr. Matthias Klingner presented the Fraunhofer IVI and its research fields. The presentation also addressed the AMSEL and Telewerk projects, which are funded by the Saxon State Ministry for Regional Development (SMR) as part of the simul+InnovationHub.

Afterwards, the participants took the opportunity for an intensive exchange and discussed topics such as strengthening the innovation culture, new sources of value creation and future urban-rural cooperation.

© Fraunhofer IVI
© Fraunhofer IVI
© Fraunhofer IVI

Intelligent drone coordination for efficient automated air logistics

January 16, 2023 | Kick-off event for the IDEALS project in Ingolstadt

To relieve urban traffic, delivery companies in particular are turning to the third dimension: transport using unmanned drones. The airspace above the required take-off and landing areas - so-called vertiports - must be monitored in a similar way to a major airport. The IDEALS research project - Intelligent Drone Coordination for Efficient Automated Air Logistics - is dedicated to coordinating such flight operations.

The routes of future transport networks are expected to pass through logistics centers equipped with vertiports for loading the air cargo from autonomous drones. In this context, the limited capacity of vertiports creates a bottleneck in the form of high drone density in their airspace. This requires automatic coordination for safe and efficient flights. As a preliminary study, the IDEALS research project investigates cooperative coordination in smart networks of multiple, heterogeneous, and autonomous transport drones for takeoff and landing operations at logistics center vertiports.

The IDEALS project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Digital Affairs and Transport (BMDV) as part of the mFUND innovation initiative with a total of 99,924 euros over a period of twelve months.

Joint project »HV-MELA-BAT«

January 12, 2023 | Project start »High-Voltage Megawatt Charging System for Heavy-Duty and Passenger Vehicles«

© Fraunhofer IVI
Underbody charging system

Under the leadership of Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, power electronic converters and a contact system for high currents and voltages are to be developed in the joint project »HV-MELA-BAT« by July 2025. Project partners are Motion Control & Power Electronics GmbH, STS Spezial-Transformatoren Stockach GmbH, Mercedes-Benz Energy GmbH and Fraunhofer Institute for Transportation and Infrastructure Systems IVI.

Fraunhofer IVI is thus contributing its expertise in the field of contact systems to the research project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK).

Since 2017, the institute has been working on solutions for fully automated charging systems for fast charging of battery electric energy storage systems under the working title »Underbody Charging System«. In 2022, the institute patented an associated system development under the name »Electrical Contact Unit« (high-performance connector). This is a semi-automatic contacting device in which the feed from plug to socket can be manual or automated, but the actual contacting process is carried out by an actuator inside the plug in the form of a face contact. In the course of the project, the technology approach is to be qualified for the implementation of the project objectives by further development into a demonstrator of the charging system »mega-charging system«.

New publication on the interaction of art and science at Fraunhofer

Book »Art and Science by Fraunhofer« published

© Fraunhofer IVI
Series of books dealing with the focus areas of design, architecture and art completed.

Fraunhofer has recognized that art can play an important role in communicating scientific results. By conveying complex content in a vivid and comprehensible way, it can contribute to the understanding of technologies and their potential for the economy and society. This requires formats that enable a productive dialog between science and art. Fraunhofer has therefore set itself the task of inviting both disciplines to engage in stimulating discourse.

The book »Art and Science by Fraunhofer«, published in November 2022, gives an insight into the efforts that provide a creative space for this exchange and increase visibility in the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. Numerous examples from various fields show how the seemingly contradictory aspects of science and art are mutually conditional and offer the opportunity to view scientific content from a new perspective.

As the third volume, the publication concludes a series of books dealing with aesthetics and functionality in the focus areas of design, architecture, and art. »Designed by Fraunhofer,« the first volume, uses a variety of project examples to show that design is an integral part of research work. The second volume, »Architecture by Fraunhofer,« focuses not only on Fraunhofer research buildings from their early beginnings to the present, but also on the exciting question: How are the buildings perceived? The most recent book is looking into the tension between science and various art forms.

The project was funded within the framework program of the Fraunhofer network »Science, Art and Design«.