October 8, 2021 | Intelligent mobility and digitalisation

DLR at the ITS World Congress 2021

  • The ITS World Congress will bring together the mobility, logistics and IT sectors in Hamburg from 11 to 15 October 2021 on the topics of intelligent mobility and digitalisation.
  • DLR will showcase forward-looking concepts and technologies for networked and automated mobility on the road and rail, as well as in the air and on the water.
  • Included at the DLR stand will be the prototype of the U-Shift vehicle concept as well as exhibits on urban airspace management and studying mobility behaviours using smartphones.
  • In live demonstrations, DLR will present a smart and cooperative road junction and a novel concept designed to improve the safety and speed of rescue operations in which helicopters, drones and networked vehicles communicate with each other.
  • Focus: Aeronautics, transport, intelligent mobility, digitalisation

The ITS World Congress (Intelligent Transport Systems), the biggest industry gathering in the field of intelligent mobility and digitalisation, is coming to Germany in 2021. From 11 to 15 October, experts from the mobility, logistics and IT sectors, trade associations and political representatives will convene in Hamburg. The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) will provide insights into its ongoing projects in the field of mobility research at its stand (Hall 5, B220). Visitors will be able to see a prototype of the futuristic U-shift vehicle concept, learn more about urban air transport and find out how to study mobility with smartphones. Videos will provide an insight into DLR’s test fields for the automated navigation of roads and shipping routes as well as for future freight transport.

Several live demonstrations by DLR within the Hamburg city area will also show the latest technologies in use. These include an intelligent, coordinated road intersection for future urban transport and the demonstration of a rescue mobility concept that is the first of its kind – a helicopter that communicates with drones and networked vehicles to autonomously establish a safe landing zone. DLR's researchers have also made numerous contributions to the ITS conference programme.

"All of our innovative technologies and projects presented here have one common goal – to bring the mobility of the future one step closer, to make it safer, cleaner and more efficient. As one of the largest transport research institutions in Europe, we are actively shaping this transformation through cutting-edge research and technology transfer to industry," says Karsten Lemmer, the Member of the DLR Executive Board responsible for Innovation, Transfer and Research Infrastructure.

The U-Shift vehicle concept prototype – on-the-road modularisation

DLR will present the first drivable prototype of the U-Shift at the ITS World Congress 2021. With applications ranging from on-demand shuttles to flexible parcel distribution centres and mobile shops, the vehicle concept offers almost unlimited possibilities. U-Shift consists of a U-shaped powertrain unit called the driveboard that contains all the technical components and systems and is designed to move autonomously, electrically and quietly. For maximum cost-effectiveness, these operations can take place around the clock. The driveboard is combined with capsule-shaped structures for transporting people and cargo. Concepts such as U-Shift have the potential to make intermodal, networked mobility a reality.

The first U-Shift prototype gives researchers the opportunity to gain experience with this innovative vehicle concept and its many potential applications. The aim is to make tomorrow’s mobility more sustainable, effective and convenient in ways that will give rise to new products, services and business models.

City ATM – airspace management in urban areas

In future, mobility and traffic management in cities will no longer be confined to the roads but will also include airspace used by drones or air taxis. It is important to integrate these new transport users into mobility concepts and manage their safe operation. In the City-ATM (Air Traffic Management) project, DLR is using specially equipped drones to test a density-based management concept for airspace management. With its help, a wide variety of aircraft should be able to operate optimally in challenging urban airspace. DLR researchers are developing operational concepts for uncrewed aerial vehicles and defining requirements and framework conditions for their safe operation in civil airspace. In an upcoming test campaign, the researchers plan to fly several real drones together with approximately 100 virtual drones – drones simulated on a computer – in a complex traffic scenario.

DLR MovingLab – measuring mobility with smartphones

Up-to-date, reliable data are in very high demand in the field of mobility research. Only by studying such data is it possible to make statements about the mobility behaviour of individuals and groups. They form the basis of scientific transport models and forecasts from which transport service providers also benefit. With MovingLab, DLR has developed a special survey and analysis method that opens up new possibilities. It uses something that most people always have with them – mobile devices such as smartphones. The position and motion sensors built into a smartphone allow the location of a person to be determined several times per minute. MovingLab creates acceleration profiles by looking at changes in position. These profiles correspond to the use of different means of transport. Surveys can also be carried out using the MovingLab app for purposes such as recording socio-demographic characteristics, general usage of or attitudes towards different means of transport and specific information on individual routes.

VITAL live demonstration – smart, cooperative road junctions

In future, road junctions will be much more capable than they are today, with new features that control traffic in a safer, more efficient and environmentally friendly way. Communication between vehicles and infrastructure as well as intelligent concepts for controlling traffic lights will play important roles. Greater consideration will also be given to pedestrians and cyclists.

DLR will demonstrate this throughout the days of 12 to 14 October in the immediate vicinity of the ITS World Congress in Hamburg city centre (registration required). For the live demonstration, DLR and partners have equipped an intersection (An der Verbindungsbahn/Rentzelstraße) on the Test Track for Automated and Connected Driving (TAVF) with the technologies developed in the VITAL project. These include, among other things, a new approach to traffic-dependent traffic light control in which data from vehicle to infrastructure communication (V2X) is taken into account in the decision-making process. Innovative sensor technology also evaluates camera images to determine current traffic conditions. In this way, all road users and their directions of movement are quickly and reliably recorded. This data is also transferred to the traffic light control system and is used to optimise it.

Air2X live demonstration – cooperation between helicopters, drones and networked vehicles makes rescue missions faster and safer

Communication between individual vehicles and between vehicles and infrastructure is key to the success of future automated and networked mobility systems. DLR is already going one step further by integrating the potential presence of aircraft at ground level. In the Air2X project, DLR, ADAC Luftrettung, NXP Semiconductors Germany and Consider IT have developed a concept for improving the speed and safety of helicopter rescue missions on motorways and regional roads. The project partners will demonstrate the concept to congress attendees and media representatives live at 11:00 on 13 October 2021 at the Cruise Terminal in Hamburg-Finkenwerder (registration required).

The focus will be on communication between helicopters, networked vehicles and drones. The communication technology used employs the ITS-G5 radio standard used in networked vehicles. Using a compact radio transmitter on board the helicopter, the crew first sends a signal to drones in the vicinity to clear the airspace for the rescue operation. It then informs automated and networked vehicles in the immediate vicinity of the accident of the planned landing site. The networked vehicles slow down, stop and form a barrier for all following vehicles. This creates a safe landing site for the rescue helicopter, allowing the crew to act independently of rescue forces on the ground and more quickly reach any casualties. Safety is also improved for the rescue personnel in the air and on the ground, as well as for third parties.

Congress participants can register for the live demonstrations via the ITS World Congress app in the App Store or Google Play. Media can register via the DLR Press Department.


Denise Nüssle

German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Corporate Communications
Pfaffenwaldring 38-40, 70569 Stuttgart
Tel: +49 711 6862-8086