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“Fascinating future perspectives on mobility in times of digitalisation”

In the research project KIMoNo, funded by the German Ministry of Transport, researchers at the University of Passau are pressing on with the improvement of mobility amenities away from the major towns and cities with the aid of digitalisation. At the virtual council of EU transport ministers, they presented some initial insights. 

Digitalisation has brought Europe to Passau – even in these times, in which keeping one’s distance is strictly the order of the day:

Heute bringen wir #Passau nach #Berlin und #Europa zusammen! Auf unserer #EU-Ministertagung stellen wir die Weichen für digitale Mobilität in Europa. Ich freue mich auf Studenten @UniPassau, meine 🇪🇺Kollegen, Vertreter aus der Region und Gäste aus Wissenschaft & Technik.#EU2020DE

https://twitter.com/BMVI/status/1321471660357308422

"Today we’re bringing Passau to Berlin and Europe together! At our conference of EU ministers, we’ll be plotting the course of digital mobility in Europe. I’m looking forward to the students at the University of Passau, my EU colleagues, representatives from the region and guests from science & technology." 

Because of the epidemiological developments in the COVID-19 pandemic, it was not possible for the EU transport ministers to come to Passau in person. Instead, they were virtually present on 29 October 2020 in the Innsteg-Aula building at the University of Passau, which functioned as a “Window on the Region” at this informal council of EU ministers. 

President Professor Ulrich Bartosch welcomed Federal Minister of Transport Andreas Scheuer, who had joined the meeting from Berlin, and his EU colleagues, who were following the event from their respective home countries. “Mobility, especially out in the country and a long way from towns and cities, must be developed for the benefit of the citizens. At the same time, we need to go easy on resources and conserve them for future generations”, explained Professor Bartosch. With its transdisciplinary research, he said, the University of Passau was making a contribution to the achievement of this objective. 

The project ”KIMoNo” (AI-based, multi-type optimisation of mobility in rural areas), funded by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) offered some insights into this research at the exhibition “Window on the Region” as regards the opportunities for digitalisation in the area of mobility. The exhibition was designed by researchers at the University of Passau led by Professor Harald Kosch, Vice-President of Academic Infrastructure and IT Facilities, and Professor Tomas Sauer, scientific head of the joint project KIMoNo, together with partners from the region. As a substitute for in-situ experience, the ministers were given a virtual tour in the form of a 20-minute film which provided a brief introduction to all the research clusters and gave the participants an opportunity to speak.

Virtual tour of the exhibition

In the Digital Logistics cluster, the team led by Professor Sauer, who leads the Fraunhofer researchers’ group “knowledge-based image processing” and the Institute of Software Systems in Technical Applications of Computer Science (FORWISS) at the University of Passau as well as KIMoNo, and also holds the Chair of Digital Image Processing, are doing research into how information, for example about goods from shipping containers, can be extracted with the aid of CT scans and Artificial Intelligence:

In the Autonomous Mobility cluster, researchers from the University of Passau and the Deggendorf Institute of Technology (DIT) are developing concepts for the interconnection of road users on the ground and in the air. The concepts are based on high-precision, intelligent maps and traffic infrastructures which can communicate with the vehicles:

In the Data Science for Sustainable Mobility cluster, a research team led by Professor Michael Granitzer, holder of the Chair of Data Science at the University of Passau, are rendering data from various different sources usable, for example so as to be able to make forecasts of future goods requirements:

If future forms of mobility are to be deployed sustainably, they need to be accepted by the people. A team led by Dr. Stefan Mang, managing director of the Centre for Market-Oriented Research in Tourism (CenTouris), are analysing the needs of the population in regions which are a long way away from towns and cities:

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In the cluster named “From Prototype to Production”, the practice partners in the KIMoNo project, OneLogic and msg systems, are developing visions of what mobility might look like in the networked, intelligent city of the future:

Apart from the researchers from Passau, the programme item “Science” also included talks by the astronaut Alexander Gerst and by Matthias Niessner, Professor of Visual Computing at the Technical University of Munich. Among the guests at the Innsteg-Aulaand those who had joined from outside there were international students from the University of Passau, who put questions to the EU transport ministers. The questions these young people had on their mind involved cross-border mobility and the challenges posed by mobility in, to and from regions which are a long way away from towns and cities.

The day after the virtual conference, 30 October 2020, observing strict hygiene regulations, the researchers presented their exhibition stands to a limited number of guests from outside. Federal Transport Minister Scheuer said he was impressed by the exhibition in the Innsteg-Aula: “It opens up some fascinating future perspectives of what constitutes mobility in the era of digitalisation.”