Karlsruhe Institute of Technology: Strategic partnership strengthens mobility research

Whether electric drives, battery storage, hydrogen technologies or automated vehicles, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the automotive and industrial supplier Schaeffler have been working together on future-oriented mobility solutions for many years. A strategic partnership is now to strengthen the development and provision of new technologies and concepts. The partners have now (July 4th, 2022) signed a corresponding agreement in Karlsruhe.

With “SHARE am KIT” (stands for: Schaeffler Hub for Advanced Research), Schaeffler is already represented with its own research location at KIT. “Company on Campus” is the name of this cooperation model, in which the company and the KIT Mobility Systems Center conduct joint research in the fields of energy storage and converters, electric drive systems and automated mobility. With the strategic partnership, KIT and Schaeffler are now deepening this successful cooperation.

“Mobility research at KIT has a long tradition and is of particular importance, especially with the interfaces to information technologies and energy research. The fact that we can make valuable contributions to this topic and prepare young people for responsible tasks in a goal-oriented manner is also due to our close cooperation with partners from industry,” said Professor Holger Hanselka, President of KIT, at the signing of the contract. “We are therefore expanding our partnership with Schaeffler. I am convinced that together we can make a decisive contribution to the much-needed sustainable mobility solutions.”

Uwe Wagner, Chief Research and Development Officer at Schaeffler AG, says: “Right now, pioneering spirit and innovative strength are of central importance in order to successfully master the transformation and to make mobility sustainable for future generations. The key here is to identify trends at an early stage and to develop the right innovations. The SHARE at the KIT helps us significantly. In an agile environment, we can work closely with science and identify and implement solutions for the future.”

Joint work on the future of mobility

The joint research and teaching within “SHARE am KIT” started in 2012. Since then, 205 students and 30 doctoral students have graduated in this context, and a total of around 450 students have taken advantage of the wide range of offers. In large joint projects, the researchers work together with other partners on technologies and concepts for future mobility. In the completed SmartLoad research project, innovative methods for improving the reliability of highly automated electric vehicles were developed. The first joint research by KIT and Schaeffler already took place at the end of the 1990s, and this was strengthened with the founding of the KIT Mobility Systems Center in 2009.

“Both sides benefit from the direct exchange between engineers from research and practice as a ‘Company on Campus’ and innovations can be realized more quickly,” said Professor Thomas Hirth, Vice President of KIT for Transfer and International Affairs at KIT. “‘SHARE am KIT’ is now considered a best practice model for cooperation between industry and universities and is already being taken up in a similar form by other institutions.”

Agile production for the 21st century

Current examples of joint research are the cross-institute projects AgiloDrive and AgiloBatt of the KIT Centers for Mobility Systems and for Energy. Both projects are about making the production of electric motors on the one hand and battery cells on the other more flexible, for example for electromobility, producing small series profitably and making production more efficient and agile through automation. Other joint activities relate to research into new drive system solutions – especially hydrogen-electric drives.