With cities becoming increasingly populated and digital, companies are developing creative solutions to transportation problems. Discover how the German start-up ‘ottobahn’ wants to use the free space above streets to bring you to your chosen destination.
Mobility is a crucial sector of the economy that drives economic growth and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (poverty reduction & environmental sustainability). It also connects society and revitalises supply chains. However, the complexity of modern life and continuous rural-urban migration patterns have created challenges such as traffic congestion and air pollution. Lungs filled with fumes, hours wasted.
Although several cities are taking steps towards the improvement of their transportation systems, Europe is spearheading in engineering innovative solutions. ‘ottobahn’, for example, is a German start-up based in Munich, which aims to create a emission-free and fully autonomous transportation systems above existing roads, highways and railways. Marc Schindler, its so-called CDO (Can Do Officer), states: “ottobahn has the potential to solve existing traffic problems in cities worldwide. It is five to ten times cheaper and more efficient than any other mode of transport we currently use (cars, trains, or buses). Passengers can reach their destination on-demand, without changing trains, and in an environmentally friendly way!”
High tech gondolas of the future
ottobahn’s transportation system works as an on-demand service. First of all, passengers order a ride through an app on their mobile phones. An ottobahn cabin arrives at the given location and is lowered to the ground, thereby allowing passengers to hop in or load their goods. In a second step, the cabin is lifted five to ten metres above the ground and commuters make their way through the ottobahn ecosystem until they reach their destination.
Intelligent algorithms permanently optimise the ottobahn traffic flow and minimise energy consumption. The pods autonomously determine their optimal routing, bringing passengers to their destination as fast as possible. The transportation process is straightforward and free from traffic jams. Solar panels placed along the tracks make the system run on 100% renewable energy.
Where software developers and mechanical engineers work hand in hand
Technology forms a huge part of ottobahn’s transport solution. Their hardware is based on railway technology, using it as a reference system that has been successful for centuries. To keep up with innovative trends, the start-up also constantly creates partnerships with other technology-driven companies. But the success of any radical innovation isn’t just about the technology itself. It also relies heavily on its acceptance by the government and other relevant institutions. For this reason, ottobahn’s employees have developed strong relationships with local and federal governments in Germany. So far, the solution has garnered the attention of thirty cities.
The future of mobility
So what is next for the busy start-up? Marc summarises: “ottobahn’s priorities this year are to expand the team with people that understand our vision and are committed to working with others to explore innovative trends and technological solutions. Another priority is to complete the setup of our test track in the south of Munich. And last but not least, we are working on funding and financing solutions to be able to grow over the next years.” ottobahn’s Chief Can Do Officer also revealed that the company plans to be a part of the Greentech Festival 2022 - a global platform that aims at empowering change makers to foster innovation and green technologies for a sustainable future.
The trend towards digitalisation will continue to have a positive impact on the cities we live in. “Technology paired with smart engineering has the potential to significantly improve city life. It’s an exciting time to work in this field and develop innovative solutions,” concludes Marc.