Data from transport users are an essential component of transport research. The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) has developed unique surveying technology in the form of MovingLab, which aims to provide data on people's mobility habits or vehicle usage patterns in a swift and straightforward manner.

Routes and modes of transport are automatically detected via a smartphone app. Moreover, distances are no longer estimated, but rather measured to the exact metre. The data is updated on a daily basis and collated over a long period of time. Journey data can also be linked up with supplementary information such as the state of a route or busyness of public transport. Freely configurable survey functions mean that the DLR MovingLab is able to address almost any specific project- or application-related question.

Tool for gauging mobility in passenger and commercial transport

DLR MovingLab serves as a tool for measuring mobility in passenger and commercial transport. It enables researchers to answer questions about mobility with direct reference to journeys made and the form of transport used. Data about new mobility phenomena such as car sharing and autonomous vehicles can also be gathered using MovingLab, plus information about the risk potential of 'active transport' (walking or cycling) in towns and cities.

The future of transport research

MovingLab enables data relating to pressing mobility research issues to be collated quickly and cost-effectively. Up until now, such surveys have been expensive and time-consuming. As this survey system is freely configurable and uses a problem-oriented survey methodology, it can be used to conduct almost any study or survey. With the app – which is available in the App Store – surveys can be carried out very rapidly and in a highly dynamic way.

At the same time, MovingLab is a citizen research project – research with people, for people. Transport researchers make clear what data they need and for what purpose.


Volker Speelmann

Head of Research Infrastructures
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Executive Board department for Innovation, Transfer and Research Infrastructure
Linder Höhe, 51147 Cologne

Dr.-Ing. Matthias Heinrichs

Head of large-scale research facilities VF
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Institute of Transport Research
Rudower Chaussee 7, 12489 Berlin