Interview with Dr. Ilja Radusch – Faunhofer FOKUS, Berlin
“I’m a big fan of the sci-fi author Neal Stephenson. Star Trek was from time to time a great source of inspiration for me as well.” says Dr. Ilja Radusch, Head of the Smart Mobility (ASCT) Business Unit at Fraunhofer FOKUS.
Some of the most wacky and iconic vehicle designs have been created through science fiction. These extraordinary automobiles have greatly impacted our culture, showcasing progressively crazier and crazier technological features over time. But what about artificial intelligence (A.I.)? In his book “Pale Blue Dot”, Carl Sagan asserts that a hypothetical alien, observing Earth from a great distance, would assume that self-sufficient cars are the dominant form of life on our planet because the “streets of the cities and the roadways of the countryside are evidently built for [the cars’] benefit”. Although Sagan’s imaginative logic is hard to ignore, historically there isn’t a huge amount of science fiction dealing with self-driving cars, probably because most of the focus has been on other transportation devices like jetpacks, rocket ships, flying cars, hoverboards, etc. That being said, what little presence these autonomous and occasionally sentient self-driving car stories have had in literary science fiction and pop sci-fi has definitely left its mark.
Dr. Ilja Radusch works in the field of vehicle-to-X communication, field tests, sensor and ad hoc networks, and mobile services. He is responsible for several research projects, both with industry partners and in the context of publicly funded research programs at national and the European levels (such as simTD, DRIVE C2X and FOT-net).
“When we work with car manufacturers, we think a little bit further. Not only do we have the vehicle system limit. We always look at the entire city and think of mobility as a basic need, which has to be done in a certain way. This does not always have to be in terms of motorized private transport. It can also be the bike or public transport. Especially with the automation or networking, there are smaller and newer concepts, such as the people-mover, where about 8-12 people in principle share a vehicle. That’s our motivation, to get mobility without making rules for people. And yet, to be sustainable.
Enabling sustainable mobility in the city is one of our main goals. I drive an electric vehicle myself, an electro smart. But what is currently very exhausting is having to load again and again, or to look for a parking space wherever I am. These are two things I can solve with automation, the self-driving cars. For example, if the vehicle is looking for a parking space by itself it may even have an automated car park. For me, the difference between car sharing and public transport is gradual. In the end, I do not have a car anymore, but I still have mobility. That’s what interests me. Whether this is a big bus that only stops at certain places at certain times or a smaller, individual vessel size. And not a diesel bus, but something electric – that is always the logistically sustainable view that we have.”
INTERVIEW Teaser, full article in PLASMA magazine 5, release in June 2019