What Became of…

On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of NEULAND Magazine, we take a look back. We have highlighted numerous innovation projects over the past years, from the early phase to further development with project partners to spin-off. We look at five projects of the past years, how they have developed until today. Milestones. New partners. New applications and much more.

SENSITIVE SMALL TALK ON THE ROAD

The mobile control station serves as a sensor carrier, mobile access point, and local server node for on-site data processing and can respond flexibly to test field requirements. (Image: KIT)
The mobile control station serves as a sensor carrier, mobile access point, and local server node for on-site data processing and can respond flexibly to test field requirements. (Image: KIT)

In 2016, the "Test Field Autonomous Driving Baden-Württemberg (TAF-BW)" project in the pioneering region from Karlsruhe via Bruchsal to Heilbronn was approved by the state and its construction started. The construction work was completed at the end of 2021. The result is a 200-kilometer route network with various sensors such as cameras, radars or road weather stations in inner-city and suburban areas, in tunnels and on expressways and highways. Researchers at the Institute of Vehicle Systems Technology (FAST) have also converted a vehicle into a mobile control station. This serves as a sensor carrier, mobile access point and local server node for on-site data processing and can react flexibly to the requirements of the test field. The operational phase of the test field is scheduled for five years and will run until April 2023. During this time, the test field will be available for use by industry and publicly funded research projects on automated and connected driving. Necessary tests for road approval took place at KIT's Campus East and research projects such as the EVA Shuttle were successfully realized.

Synthetic Substance in the Tank (2015)

Laboratory plant for the production of alternative diesel fuels in a new process (Image: KIT)
Laboratory plant for the production of alternative diesel fuels in a new process (Image: KIT)

The use of oxymethylene ether (OME) as an alternative diesel fuel was already examined by researchers from Karlsruhe, Munich, and Kaiserslautern in a joint project several years ago. The diverse findings most recently led to the ongoing NAMOSYN project (Sustainable Mobility through Synthetic Fuels), which is concerned with the further development of alternative fuels. Milestones from the project so far include the commissioning of a pilot plant at the TU Munich and the current construction of a plant for OME production at KIT. In addition, the researchers were able to make an important contribution to the creation of a fuel standard as well as to the chemical modification of fuels. In the coming years, the project partners intend to work on the scale-up of fuel production as well as on the identification of new applications also outside the fuel sector.

Robots with Sensitiveness (2017)

Hosam Alagi with the developed gripper on the assistance robot (Image: KIT)
Hosam Alagi with the developed gripper on the assistance robot (Image: KIT)

Prof. Dr. Björn Hein and Hosam Alagi have been researching the idea of using capacitive proximity and tactile sensors to enable robots to improve their perception of their environment since 2017. Since then, they have further refined the technology to increase the safety of human-machine interaction. Scalable measurement circuitry with lower response times, multimodal perception, and non-contact material recognition have made it possible to perform collaborative tasks more efficiently. For example, object transfer from robot to human was optimized. Together with the project partners, the researchers developed grippers for an assistant robot and equipped them with proximity and tactile sensors. With a prototype, they were able to successfully demonstrate how an object handover between human and robot can be implemented autonomously, fluidly and pleasantly.

Second Chance for Greenhouse Gase (2018)

Industrial pilot facility of INERATEC for e-fuel production (Image: INERATEC)
Industrial pilot facility of INERATEC for e-fuel production (Image: INERATEC)

Spin-off INERATEC GmbH builds modular chemical plants in container format to convert greenhouse gases such as CO2 into synthetic fuels. A lot has happened since the project was presented in NEULAND Magazine 2018: The company, which has now grown to over 80 employees, installed the first industrial pilot plant at a major customer in 2021, which is currently being commissioned. This lays the foundation for future series production. The focus for the use of e-fuels will continue to be on the marine and aviation sectors, as these are difficult to electrify compared to the automotive sector. With the planned construction of a pioneer plant in Frankfurt, INERATEC aims to secure the industrial availability of sustainable, CO2-neutral e-Fuels for aviation, shipping and road transport. To increase its e-Fuel production capacity, the spin-off raised new growth capital of €20 million with new strategic investors in early 2022.

Lot size 1 in the interest of the patient (2018)

Demonstration of a hand orthosis produced with the Freeformer 300-4X (Image: ARBURG).
Demonstration of a hand orthosis produced with the Freeformer 300-4X (Image: ARBURG).

Three years ago, NEULAND introduced the cooperation between the Institute for Production Technology (wbk) at KIT and the mechanical engineering company ARBURG GmbH + Co KG in the field of additive manufacturing of fiber-reinforced plastics with continuous fibers. At the "Formnext" and "K" trade fairs, ARBURG will be presenting its technological advancement for the first time in 2019: the "Freeformer 300-4X", which is suitable for the additive manufacturing of fiber-reinforced, resilient functional components from batch size 1 to small series. Hand orthoses as a typical example of such functional components were produced at the trade shows for illustration. Thanks to the hard-soft connection, they can be individually adapted to the shape of the patient's hand and thus replace classic, metal-reinforced products.

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