St. Pölten UAS Broadens Research Portfolio on Digitalisation in Railway Sector
The St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences is in the process of increasing its research activities on digitalisation in rail transport. Due to start-up financing provided by the province of Lower Austria, the Carl Ritter von Ghega Institute for Integrated Mobility Research of the St. Pölten UAS has been able to expand this topic area, acquire several new projects, increase its staff, and deepen existing collaborations with companies.
Connecting Mobility, Digitalisation and Sustainability
Approximately two years ago, the St. Pölten UAS was awarded the contract for the expansion of its research activities at the Carl Ritter von Ghega Institute for Integrated Mobility Research within the framework of a project funding initiative of the province of Lower Austria. Work on dedicated to increasing the digitalisation in the railway and mobility sector is to be promoted in particular. A number of new projects have been launched since.
“Mobility and digitalisation are important future topics, which makes them a key focus of the province of Lower Austria as well. The St. Pölten UAS conducts cutting-edge research on these topics, so we are obviously glad to support projects such as the expansion of mobility research activities. We are particularly pleased that the UAS maintains close ties to the business world in these areas. This allows for the fast, direct implementation of innovations, which is something that society as a whole benefits from”, says Johanna Mikl-Leitner, Governor of Lower Austria.
“We have been researching sustainable mobility and the application of digital solutions in the transport sector for years. The financing for the implementation of new activities has enabled us to deepen many existing initiatives and start new ones that are supposed to result in individual research focus areas eventually. Therefore, this start-up financing will provide a lasting boost to our institute”, says Head of Institute Frank Michelberger.
“Instruments such as this financial support initiative are an important means for our university of applied sciences to further intensify our excellent and intensive research activities and to strengthen St. Pölten as a research location”, explains Hannes Raffaseder, Chief Research and Innovation Officer of the St. Pölten UAS.
The following is an overview of the new projects and activities:
Reducing CO2 through Improved Carriage Logistics
One project investigates the technical feasibility of a fully automated shunting yard. The objective is to make the shunting of freight carriages more efficient, thereby rendering freight transport by rail more attractive than road transport and saving CO2. St. Pölten UAS researcher Adrian Wagner is working on the project in the context of his dissertation, which is supervised at TU Wien and funded by the province of Lower Austria through the Niederösterreichische Forschungs- und Bildungsges.m.b.H. (NFB) within the framework of the “FTI Science Call for Dissertations”.
Smart Inspection of Bridges
In the project Smart Inspection, researchers of the St. Pölten UAS are developing a mobile app to establish the condition of the supporting structures of bridges, which is supposed to reduce the amount of work needed to document damages and faults. The project is financed by Austria Wirtschaftsservice Gesellschaft mbH (aws) within the framework of a programme for the promotion of prototypes developed by higher education institutions.
Improved Air Traffic Control
In the project EMMSA, the St. Pölten UAS is developing a formalised system for the evaluation of interfaces in the partly and fully automated approach and departure control of air traffic. The project also examines whether the software solutions are feasible, applicable and economically exploitable. Project partners are Fraunhofer Austria Research, the Paris Lodron University of Salzburg, and Aerospace Research. The Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology finances the project through the programme “Take Off”.
Within the framework of the project “STAFFER – Skill Training Alliance for the Future European Rail System”, the St. Pölten UAS is involved in the development of needs-oriented curricula, education and training paths for the entire railway sector upon invitation of ÖBB. The project is co-financed by Erasmus+, and partners include universities, research institutions, railway technology companies, and secondary technical schools (HTLs) from Austria and Europe.
New Staff, Company Partners and Activities
Thanks to the financial boost, the Carl Ritter von Ghega Institute has been able to take on two new staff members: social scientist and economist Alexandra Anderluh and transport expert Andrew Nash. Anderluh previously worked in logistics and is going to strengthen the institute’s competencies in this field, while Nash has profound experience in traffic planning and gained particular expertise in the digitalisation of mobility services over the past few years.
Furthermore, the institute has started collaborations with big industrial partners that are supposed to be deepened in the medium term. It also carries out the pilot study “Digi Citybahn Waidhofen” on behalf of Niederösterreich Bahnen (NÖVOG). In this context, the researchers investigate the vehicle concepts, drive technologies, and degree of automation that are feasible for the next generation of vehicles to be used by Citybahn Waidhofen.
Together with Verkehrsclub Österreich (VCÖ), Frank Michelberger and his team organised a “World Café” on the topic of mobility services for rural and urban environments.
Carl Ritter von Ghega Institute for Integrated Mobility Research
The institute conducts application-oriented research and development on the topics of railway technology and mobility. The emphasis is on the core competence of the institute: the comprehensive knowledge of the railway system. Key focus areas of the institute are the interactions between humans and machines, and between humans and traffic systems, as well as lifecycles of technical systems.
FH-Prof. Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Dipl.-Ing. Frank Michelberger, EURAIL-Ing.Head of Research Institute
Carl Ritter von Ghega Institute for Integrated Mobility Research Deputy Academic Director Rail Technology and Mobility (BA) Department of Rail Technology and Mobility Member of the UAS Board from 2020 to 2023