To validate simulation methods and results, vehicle components are tested on DLR’s Dynamic Components Crash Facility. Along an eleven and a half meter track, two modular sleds collide at a speed of up to 64 kilometers per hour to test various crash configurations. Furthermore, high-speed impact scenarios for trains and road vehicles are performed on our Gas Gun Test Facility. Additionally, we possess a Drop Test Bench, which serves to examine the energy absorption behavior of materials, components and structures. To obtain mechanical Material Parameters, we have various testing machines at our disposal. Their measurement data serve for calculations as well as for the development and validation of new, numerical material and joining models. Moreover, mechanical Load Tests and lifecycle durability studies are carried out by us.
Joining technology is a key research topic particularly in modern multi-material design, since different materials require the application of joining technologies suitable for the respective combination of assembly components. In DLR’s Joining Technology Laboratory, we above all consider the low thermal and cold joining processes, as well as the combination of mechanical joining processes and adhesive bonding, so-called hybrid joining. To design components made of Fiber-reinforced Plastics and Composites, we operate plants that reflect all the process steps from design through to the final prototype.
In the Four-engine All-wheel Roller Test Bench of the DLR with climate chamber and exhaust gas analysis, passenger cars and light duty vehicles are studied for their energetic efficiency and their emissions’ behavior in real operation. In a temperature range of -25 °C to 50 °C, we set driving resistance levels for various tracks, simulate runs under loads, adjust the acceleration behavior or emulate exhaust gas cycles. Due to its explosion-proof design, hydrogen and natural gas driven vehicles can be researched as well. To examine Novel Power Train Concepts for road vehicles, we have available the necessary Test Rigs and Benches, as well as the required measurement equipment. We concentrate on electrified power trains as well as on fuel cell systems with storage or batteries.
For Thermoelectric Generators (TEG) we operate a complete process chain unique in Germany: from the production of the powdery basic materials and whole TEG modules, through to their testing and qualification. The comprehensive equipment in the TEG Line allows us to draw up optimized thermoelectrical material solutions and develop series production capable manufacturing processes. The functional prototypes can be installed in our TEG Test Vehicle, with which the thermodynamic behavior of exhaust gas flow and cooling water circulation is studied.
Mutually coordinated simulators, vehicles and test beds support the conception, development, and assessment of driver assistance and automation. In so doing, our software architecture DOMINION enables us to integrate applications for various development phases in all facilities. In order to analyze human driving behavior, the status of the driver, the vehicle, and the surroundings are combined to a time-synchronized overall view in our test vehicle ViewCar®. Different simulation environments facilitate riskless testing in appropriate, reproducible scenarios. The SMPLab serves the rapid, prototypical implementation and assessment of new interactive concepts. For the quick and flexible assessment of new functions regarding usability and acceptance, the Human-machine Interface Laboratory has been reduced to the essential. The Virtual-reality Laboratory combines a flexible structure with greater realism through a three-sided projection. The Dynamic Driving Simulator is used for the testing of advanced developments. It provides a close-to-reality driving feeling due to a motion system, a comprehensive projection and the integration of a complete vehicle. In the future, a modular mock-up will support studies on vehicle interior concepts in the virtual-reality-laboratory as well as in the dynamic driving simulator. Finally, the experimental vehicles FASCar® I and II are used for studies in real vehicles.
With the ROboMObil, DLR have available an robotic vehicle which is equipped with four wheel-robots. A power train, steering, brakes, and suspension are integrated in each wheel. Wheel hub motors are a highly promising solution for the power trains of future electric vehicles. Their specific characteristics as well as questions of recuperation are being explored in our roller test bench.
For aerodynamic and aeroacoustic experiments on terrestrial vehicles, we have several Wind and Water Tunnels at our disposal. The Cryogenic Wind Tunnel in Cologne (KKK), in contrast to almost all other wind tunnels worldwide, allows Mach and Reynolds numbers to be adjusted independently of each other. The aerodynamic behavior of high-speed trains during a tunnel passing is investigated in our worldwide unique Tunnel Simulation Facility, in which train models are catapulted to speeds of 400 kilometers per hour over a distance of more than 60 meters. With DLR’s Cross-wind Test Facility, we research the forces and pressures on a train at cross-wind conditions. The measurement techniques include conventional force and pressure measurement methods, hot wire and hot film methods as well as the latest laser optical tools, such as Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV).
Several large-scale research infrastructures are dedicated to the study of passenger comfort in rail vehicles. With the Experimental Train Platform Göttingen, a laboratory is being created to record the thermal and acoustic comfort of the passengers. It is made up of the railcar of a regional train, which offers space for 50 passengers, and facilitates research on typical effects, such as opening the doors, climate control or sound transmission. A standardized room for experiments on climate control complements the facility. Further analyses are done in the Barochamber Complex, in which a train compartment for 6 to 8 test subjects under realistic pressure changes is simulated. In so doing, we investigate the effects of pressure impulses on humans induced by a tunnel passing of a high-speed train.
Traffic data are gathered to plan, simulate, and influence transport systems. We operate two Measuring Vehicles, which are equipped with sensors and systems for mobile and stationary data recording and processing. This includes, inter alia, video- and radar systems, D-GPS as well as an extendable telescope mast for comprehensive data recording at crossroads. To record traffic data and to test sensors under real operating conditions regarding their quality and reliability, a 1.2 kilometer long Measurement and Test Track has been established. It is passed every day by about 30,000 vehicles. The recorded data are processed in accordance to the respective standards, transmitted to the data center, visualized and archived. With the Traffic Tower, we develop and operate a fully functional virtual traffic management center. Whether the monitoring of traffic at public mass events or the evaluation of traffic control algorithms, the traffic tower supports our work through the virtual emulation of road traffic and traffic control devices.
The RailSiTe® laboratory facilitates a detailed technical and operational simulation as well as tests of railway signaling and safety technology. It represents the complete functional chain of the rail system, from route-side signaling and safety technology, the railway control center, via route infrastructure and the wireless interface between route and train through to the vehicle. The modular architecture allows to integrate software modules as well as hardware components into the simulation. The RailSiTe® laboratory is one out of three in Europe that are used for tests on the conformity and interoperability of subsystems and components of the European Train Control System (ETCS). Moreover, it is the only accredited German test laboratory for ETCS components. The interaction between humans as train drivers, train controllers or dispatchers and the technical system is taking place, both in the train as well as in the control centers. Speed and reliability with which the necessary activities are done, influence safety and performance of the railway system. At the train driver’s and train dispatcher’s workplace in the RailSET® laboratory various relevant influential factors and their effects on humans are examined.
Modern operational procedures in rail traffic with their high demands regarding efficiency and safety call for a continuous vehicle-based positioning. The test and measuring vehicle RailDriVE® serves to trial new positioning systems, as a test platform for positioning components and the study of various sensor combinations. The comprehensive equipment of the rail-road vehicle includes positioning and communication components, workplaces for monitoring and on-line assessment of the recorded data, as well as a GPS module and a radio modem.
To develop new solutions in the field of maritime traffic management we use the Experimental Verification Network. It has been conceived as a high-rate network for distributing measurement data in real time and makes it possible to develop and validate new positioning services which are based on maritime Ground-based Augmentation Systems (M-GBAS). For this purpose, we use and extend infrastructure components in the Research Port of Rostock. This port serves as a test bed for collaborative research on maritime applications of the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) together with industrial companies and research organizations. In connection with partnerships and projects we additionally have access to the SEAGATE system as well as to the maritime simulation center in Warnemünde.
For the operational implementation of our ideas for a traffic management system at public mass events and disasters, we benefit from a comprehensive combination of hardware. Using our aircraft fleet, we record traffic and situation data, both with our 3K Camera System, as well as with a modified Synthetic Aperture Radar System. By means of a microwave link or a laser-based optical free-space communication, the data, after on-board processing, are transferred to our Mobile Ground Receiving Station. The station also includes a tent to store the required equipment. The incoming data are fed into the crisis simulator for the development of the overall traffic situation and traffic predictions. This information is transmitted to the emergency and rescue forces on site as well as to the respective emergency control centers via a web-based portal. Our Disaster Management Tool (DMT) integrates satellite navigation, satellite communication, and the products of satellite-based earth observation into a mobile and robust information and communication tool for international disaster and emergency protection on site. It facilitates the information exchange between the mobile emergency forces and the emergency control and management forces in the disaster control centers. The satellite data are made available through in-house aerial systems and mobile stations on all continents to process, archive, and distribute data. The archiving of the satellite data is done by fully-automated data libraries. A digital image interpretation draws on key software and the robot archive, and allows for the generation of video animations. These data additionally form the working basis for our Center for Satellite-based Crisis Information (ZKI).
Up to eight test subjects can be accommodated for several days or even weeks in the Simulation Facility for Occupational Medicine Research (AMSAN). The 300 square meter facility can be operated as a closed system under controlled environmental conditions. It is fully air-conditioned, noise-protected, only has artificial lighting, and is used, in particular, for studies on the effect of nocturnal traffic noise on sleep and performance.
The DLR operates the largest civil fleet of Research Aircraft and Helicopters in Europe. The modified aircraft are subject to research in aeronautics themselves or are used as platforms for the operation of scientific devices to observe the earth and the ocean surfaces, as well as for atmospheric research. Besides their significance for environmental research in the Transport Program, they are also essential for the airborne recording of traffic and situation data. The German Federal Aviation Office has accredited the DLR flight experiments facility as an aviation engineering operation for the independent implementation of maintenance work on its aircraft. Therefore, in cooperation with the DLR in-house development organization the approval of modifications for scientific installations and conversions in the aircraft can largely be handled autonomously.
With the Application Platform on Intelligent Mobility (AIM), the DLR, with the support of the state of Niedersachsen, the city of Braunschweig, and further partners creates a large-scale research facility which is unique in Germany. It serves the networked research, development, and application of intelligent transport and mobility services. AIM maps the complete range of transport research: from the acquisition of empirical data via tests in simulations or laboratories, through to actual trials in real traffic. Development and tests of driver assistance, intermodal traffic management or sociological traffic analyses − Depending on the objective, the basic infrastructure is expanded and adapted to new tasks. As an open, flexible and sustained research platform, AIM allows the reutilization of the testing infrastructure for the various questions.
With the work on the Next Generation Car, DLR pools its research in the field of road vehicles. To validate and visualize our working results, we need a correspondingly orientated infrastructure. This is why we want to create a modular, complementary as well as interlinked demonstrator and test bed infrastructure, called NGC FiD, that also considers and includes the existing infrastructures. The demonstrators are conceived and implemented as a platform, so that the integration of the different research work is possible in an easy way. By partly drawing on existing parts, components and modules while building up the platform, the focus on scientifically relevant vehicle components is fostered. Furthermore, rapid progress is ensured and complementarity with existing module concepts of vehicle manufacturers as well as their suppliers is shown. With this demonstrator environment, systemic relations are depicted and the interactions analyzed, whereby the insights achieved are used for the further development of the research work. The internal focusing and development of coherent research road maps as well as the external visibility, thereby, are strengthened sustainably.
By using simulators and laboratories, we work on all the questions of system technology for a rail vehicle and its integration into the rail network. With the NGT Research Train (NGT FT), we, independently of industrial interests and operational limitations, can explore the developed methods, processes and technologies, under real-life conditions. Furthermore, it will be possible to prove its operational reliability. The NGT FT will be an electric double-decker multiple unit train with single coaches in a differential design, which can achieve speeds up to 200 kilometers per hour. Two center coaches are used as test compartments for experiments, a further one is intended for research on the vehicle body. Details on the configuration and operation are subject to further studies. The NGT FT makes it possible to transfer the rail-specific research from the laboratory scale to the practical demonstration and in-situ verification. Hence, a further important step to exploitable innovations is achieved. The early integration into the product development is secured by working together with leading rail vehicle manufacturers. Thereby, Germany's position as a worldwide technology market leader and the largest production site for rail technology is not only maintained but also strengthened. What is more, the NGT FT can be made available to other centers of the Helmholtz Association and universities, as well as SMEs through collaborations for research purposes.
Due to the increasing standardization and modularizing in railway signaling and safety technology the market for component suppliers is opening. This leads to a strong demand for neutral and independent testing in the scope of assessments and certifications: On the one hand, European oriented towards interoperability, and on the other hand, purely national oriented, without any direct influence on it. The DLR already operates the railway laboratory RailSiTe®, which covers the European requirements. With a complement for the national perspective, the Railway Infrastructure Laboratory, the demand for an independent test facility, which can assess both the individual interfaces as well as the integrated system is fully covered. The laboratory is built up of computer-based simulators and represents another unique selling proposition for the DLR. It is connected via interfaces with the system to be tested and will work deterministically for certifications but interactive for tests on its usability.