Ambient Mobility Lab

Ambient Mobility is an exploration of future-facing innovations in mobility. The joint initiative between the Senseable City Lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Mobility Innovation Lab at the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO aims to create a synergy between the interdisciplinary research model exercised at MIT, and Fraunhofer IAO’s strength in transforming concepts into products.

Ambient Mobility operates in tomorrow’s new urban paradigm. The near-future of mobility will be radically transformed by pervasive deployment of sensors, networked technology, and the big data that they generate. These advances, hand-in-hand with self-driving technology, intelligent transportation systems, new forms of design and applications as well as electric vehicles, are poised to revolutionize urban flows. The distinction between individual and mass transportation systems will erode, as public and private mobility is blurred. Ambient Mobility works towards a future in which extensive ride and vehicle sharing – enabled by dimensions of autonomous driving such as the optimized vehicle relocation – will provide personalized, on-demand mobility with modular car concepts addressing the specific requirements of cities. The parallel trend towards electric vehicles will re-shape urban energy needs and require innovative means of integrating of vehicle fleets with the power grid and reveal potential opportunities. The broad spectrum of smart mobility applications will result in a drastic reduction of circulating vehicles, travel times, emissions, and parking infrastructure, presenting enormous benefits for urban communities. The Ambient Mobility Lab seeks to understand and impact these trends through the design of future urban mobility systems.

The Ambient Mobility Lab initiative is supported with fundings from Ministry of Finance and Economics of the German federal state Baden-Württemberg.

Research Areas

Shared and Inter-modal urban mobility

Advances in networking, algorithmic optimization, and onboard vehicle technology are converging to bring about a revolution in urban mobility. Today’s mobility landscape is compartmentalized into distinct transportation modes, including private cars, taxis, bikes, mass transportation – categories that are poised to erode. The application of digital control systems will draw hyperlinks and reconfigurations, realizing sharable infrastructures and tightening the links between mobility systems.

Energy and mobility systems

Of many future possibilities, electric systems (battery and fuel cell based) are currently the most promising means of significantly reducing vehicle emissions. However, widespread transition from gas to electric is predicated on the deployment of new charging infrastructure. There are a broad spectrum of associated challenges, including optimizing the locations of individual charging stations, satisfying massive vehicle energy demands with the existing power grid, and ascertaining the impact of charging strategies on driver behavior.

Ambient Mobility will investigate the symbiotic relationship between shared, intermodal mobility systems and the urban energy landscape, endeavoring to anticipate the impact of charging station networks, charging technology, driver’s behaviors, as well as vehicle and ride sharing on systemic energy consumption spatio-temporal patterns. Findings will inform the development of ‘smart hardware’ solutions, such as vehicle power train or new personal mobility systems – the technology of the Ambient Mobile City.