New Mobility: High speed and fly high. - Recap 18 August 2020.

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New mobility. High speed and fly high. Dive into the world of future mobility concepts.

With working in the field of mobility and transportation for decades, whilst always striving for innovation and progress, it was easy for the BMW Group to dive into the future of mobility concepts in this round table event at Future Forum by BMW Welt. To discuss this topic, we invited three exciting experts who tackle the idea of future mobility with three very different perspectives: Sebastian Rink, Team Manager of the Hyperloop project at the TU Munich, Oliver Walker-Jones, Head of Communication at Lilium and Dr. Christian Eschmann, Coordinator Unmanned Aircraft Systems at the DLR (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt).

From sci-fi to reality.

Flying taxis in the sky or pods driving through tubes with extremely high speed, is something most people consider being part of their favorite sci-fi movies. No surprise that our three guests all have been drawn to this field since a young age or as Dr. Christian Eschmann said: “As a young boy when I dreamt of elements that can fly, I felt a fascination. It's about pushing the limits”. But in 2020 lots of these concepts are no longer science fiction.

Sebastian Rink started to work on the Hyperloop project as a student at the Technical University in Munich (TUM), when Tesla founder Elon Musk brought the idea back up again in 2013. “The idea behind Hyperloop is actually pretty old. It is a tube with a vehicle moving inside very fast. The tube is evacuated with low pressure in it, so it has a low air resistance.” Rink says, when describing the concept they’ve been working on for four years now. After they broke a new speed record last year with 480km/h, they now focus on new concepts and ideas: tubes, pods, and possible tracks similar to an ICE track where the vehicle could drive with around 800km/h. More information: https://tumhyperloop.de.

Even though the founders of Lilium met at the TUM as well 5 years ago, they grew out of the university environment pretty fast, with now more than 500 people working at the Munich based company. “We basically tackle the same problem as Hyperloop. But we weren’t sure about the idea of tubes and wanted to get rid of the rail- or highway - so we looked at the sky”, Oliver Walker-Jones said. In the past couple of years they developed, designed and built an electric 5-seater (incl. pilot) aircraft that starts and lands vertically and changes over to flying horizontal in between. Their plan is to enter the market by 2025 and to build an alternative mobility service to connect cities and regions

Dr. Christian Eschman on the other hand works in a field that comes more from “the classical side of things”. At DLR they feel more like enabler, rather than a company that builds products. They do a lot of research, look far into the future and also provide technology for companies to use in their products. When it comes to their aeronautical research Dr. Eschmann mentioned three main topics they came up with: Electrification and electric aircrafts, digital tools for transportation and the big topic of automation and unmanned aircrafts.

 

With all the technology, don’t forget the people.

There are three important topics when looking at the feasibility of new mobility concepts: Passenger safety, acceptance of the concepts within communities and their sustainability.

Of course, for both concepts Hyperloop and Lilium, safety is the most important factor since the beginning of their development. The safety of their passengers is the foundation of their work or as Sebastian Rink puts it: “If the system won’t be as safe as we want it to be, it’s a failed concept”. At Lilium they work on three different solutions towards flying a safe vehicle: at first they want to remote-control the aircraft from the ground, secondly they want to have a pilot on board who flies the aircraft and at last they “would love to use the 5th seat for another passenger, instead of the pilot, and go fully autonomous.” Walker-Jones says.

But what about sustainability?

Oliver Walker-Jones finds clear words when it comes to sustainability: “Sustainability is our trump card. It’s the reason we are doing the business. It’s the only reason: to improve the world”. Quite similar to Sebastian Rink who underlines that “the whole idea behind Hyperloop was to be less energy intensive then casual ways of transportation.”For Dr. Christian Eschmann and the DLR the urgently needed reduction of traditional aircrafts is a bit tougher. But he still is absolutely sure about the fact that things need to change and not only when using ways of transportation, but also in the procurement of resources, energy, the supply chains and the production.

If you want to have more details of our exciting discussion please watch the video and visit the websites of our guests to find out more. And be sure to visit one of our next highlight events at the Future Forum by BMW Welt.

 

OUR EXPERTS At A GLANCE:

Future Forum by BMW Welt Christian Eschmann

Dr.-Ing. Christian Eschmann is since October 2018 the coordinator for the strategic topic of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) – the national aeronautics and space research centre of the Federal Republic of Germany. In addition, Christian is the DLR Liaison Officer to the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), leads the ‘Urban Air Mobility’ thematic programme within the Future Sky initiative of the Association of European Research Establishments in Aeronautics (EREA) and is a member of the steering committee of the German Unmanned Aviation Association (VUL).

Future Forum by BMW Welt Sebastian Rink

Sebastian Rink is team manager at TUM Hyperloop since autumn 2019. He has been part of the team since 2018. For the 2019 SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition he was part of the brakes sub-team. Together the TUM Hyperloop Team was able to win the competition for the fourth time in a row with a record speed of 482 km/h. Since 2019 the Team is now working to build a full-scale test-track. Sebastian is now part of the three headed Project Board, responsible to keep the team and technical development on track.

Future Forum by BMW Welt Oliver Walker-Jones

Oliver leads communications for Lilium, a Munich-based start-up developing a revolutionary all-electric air taxi. He previously led the global communications function for Rolls-Royce’s aerospace division. Nominated as one of PRWeek’s 30 under 30 in 2015, he has also held communications and government affairs roles with Walmart, LafargeHolcim, Blackstone and has worked for politicians on both sides of the Atlantic.