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A coupling without a coupling - this is the somewhat simplified way in which the Stadtwerke München (SWM), which is significantly involved in the TEMPUS project, describes the term platooning. TEMPUS, in turn, is the elegant abbreviation of the bulky project title "Test Field Munich - Pilot Test Urban Automated Road Traffic". Together with twelve other partners, including the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology KIT, SWM is conducting research under the auspices of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) on a sustainable mobility system for the future through automation. The project is supported by the Federal Ministry of Digital Affairs and Transport, among others, with funding of around 11 million euros.

Electric buses as project carriers for automated platooning

The TEMPUS project, which is divided into a total of eight work packages, essentially consists of field tests for automated and connected driving in a test field in the north of Munich. The work package "Automated Platooning" is being carried out jointly by KIT, the Dutch e-bus provider Ebusco and SWM. While Ebusco is providing the two buses, KIT is developing the sensor technology installed in them, including the underlying algorithms. Tamara Drescher, deputy head of the "Automated Platooning" work package, knows why buses in urban traffic are particularly suitable for automation: "By simply coupling and decoupling the buses, the size of the vehicle can be adjusted as needed in platooning. Moreover, this technology contributes to the electrification of vehicles with high passenger capacity."

Open test field planned in the north of Munich

The first test drives of the platooning prototype have been taking place on a closed test field since February 2023. If these are successful, journeys are then planned on the open test field in the north of Munich. "The project also pays into our strategic group goals," says Dr. Svenja Reiß, who manages the project for SWM/MVG. "Due to the highly innovative character and the development of a vehicle that is ready for series production, we expect potential savings for the bus. This supports our goal of electrifying the bus fleet and significantly increasing transport performance in the environmental alliance over the next few years. In addition, we can improve our reliability and punctuality with the development of a new operations control system and the optimisation of acceleration at traffic signals," adds Dr. Svenja Reiß. TEMPUS is scheduled to run for two and a half years until the end of June 2023. In addition, KIT will explain the complex problems of bus platooning in detail at HANNOVER MESSE 2023 with the help of a model with realistic urban environment situations.