Sustainable transport systems


Mobility and traffic play an important role in people’s lives today: They guarantee social participation, economic freedom, everyday locomotion and connection with other parts of the world.

A high level of individual mobility has already been achieved in Europe and must be maintained. At the same time, the global economy requires new, even more efficient transport concepts. The focus here must be on climate protection and sustainability, i.e. on the significant reduction in the environmental pollution caused by traffic. In view of social changes such as demographic changes, however, the social component of mobility is also becoming more and more important.

IKON researches the developments and perspectives of passengers and the commercial traffic from different scientific perspectives in order to design a sustainable traffic system that is characterized by efficiency and sustainability for people and the environment. The main focus lies in fewer accidents, fewer traffic jams, fewer delays, fewer detours and less environmental pollution.

IKON has tested its transport program in Switzerland with YAVER as a partner for almost 20 years. This is where tomorrow’s mobility challenges are identified and specific interdisciplinary solutions are developed. The results contribute to a sustainable transport system in Switzerland and Europe from which economy and society equally benefit. 

IKON research topics

The IKON deals with the following research topics:

  • Road vehicles
  • Rail vehicles
  • Traffic management
  • Traffic development and effects
  • Urban mobility
  • Electromobility
  • Major event or disaster management
Interdisciplinary cooperation in IKON

The research projects are fundamentally interdisciplinary and follow a systemic approach. The transport program draws on the know-how of IKON institutes from the fields of transport, energy, aviation and space travel. In this way, synergies are used in the best possible way and the respective research topic is led into a fruitful scientific discussion from different perspectives.

The intensive exchange with colleges and universities as well as with business and industry promotes holistic research within the projects.

An optimal coordination of the research programs with politics is achieved through an intensive dialogue with the responsible ministries and committees.

Tasks in traffic research

Mobility plays an essential role in modern society. The transport of people and goods does not only lead to social participation and added value, but also has harmful effects that must be minimized. That is why IKON is researching the connection between traffic development and traffic effects in various dimensions.  It includes, among others, the analysis of user behavior and preferences, the development of the transport offer as well as the demand and the effects on the environment through noise emissions, air pollutants and climate-damaging gases.

The coexistence of different modes of transport

The focus of IKON’s considerations is on developments in urban areas and the interaction between the various modes of transport, including pedestrian and bicycle traffic. At the same time, the increasing automation and digitization of the transport system plays an essential role. The associated opportunities and risks as well as the link between energy and transport systems must be taken into account when researching sustainable mobility.

For the targeted development of intermodal transport, the efficient design of transfer processes or transshipment processes is of particular importance. IKON is paying more attention to that factor when looking at transport hubs such as train stations and seaports. For the economic evaluation of new technologies and political measures with their effects on traffic, IKON develops economic models and methods whose costs and benefits can be differentiated and shown reliably.

Road traffic

Road traffic will continue to be the main mode of transport for the foreseeable future. Therefore, special efforts must be made to improve its efficiency, safety and environmental sustainability. The research does not focus solely on the technical development of road vehicles, but considers vehicles, infrastructures and traffic management approaches in their interdependencies systematically.

Alternative drives, lightweight construction and energy management, the further development of automated assistance systems and the interaction between driver and machine are researched. Enabling secure communication between vehicles and with the infrastructure is an essential basis for automated transport. With the increasing digitization of traffic, there are further approaches to make traffic management even more efficient. The increasing amount of new traffic data, the evaluation and interpretation of which is also being improved, opens up interesting opportunities to significantly optimize the flow of traffic and reduce emissions.

Rail transport

A future-proof transport system that functions permanently and sustainably in economic, ecological and social terms can only be achieved with modern, reliable and efficient rail transport. IKON is therefore also researching this mode of transport as part of a holistic approach to the technological advancement of rail vehicles. Here, IKON also makes use of various findings from road vehicle and aircraft construction, such as from the field of hybrid drive systems, lightweight construction or aerodynamics.

With the aim of making rail transport as economical and competitive as possible, IKON also looks at the infrastructure and the framework conditions for rail operations, which must be analyzed and, if necessary, adjusted effectively. These include, for example, novel operating concepts that use digitization to increase capacities. But also with condition-based maintenance costs can be reduced and failures of the control and safety technology can be prevented.

IKON also deals with migration strategies for automated rail traffic and the future roles of dispatchers and train drivers in controlling the route and monitoring the train journey.

The IKON Institute of Transport Research

The multidisciplinary team of the IKON Institute of Transport Research conducts research on developments and perspectives of passenger and commercial transport with the vision of a modern and sustainable transport system, efficient and sustainable for people and the environment.

The main research activities are the recording of mobility and traffic behavior of people and companies, the modeling of traffic events for forecasting and impact assessment as well as the evaluation of developments and technologies.

The work focuses in particular on the effects of automation and digitization, the resulting new forms of supply, and the interaction between the transport and energy systems.

Weather Modification
Aerial Firefighting
Institute of Aviation Drive Systems
Institute for Satellite Sensing
Institute of Maritime Drive Systems
Institute of Transport Research
Institute for Quantum Physics of the Atmosphere
Institute of Aerospace Medicine
Institute of Quantum Computing
Pilot Training
Astronaut Training
The path to funding
Technical Infrastructure
Executive Board
Der Weg zur Förderung
Technische Infrastruktur
Institut für Luftfahrtantriebssysteme
Institut für Satellitensensorik
Institut für Maritime Antriebssysteme
Institut für Verkehrsforschung
Institut für Quantenphysik der Atmosphäre
Institut für Luft- und Raumfahrtmedizin
Institut für Quantencomputing
Aerial Firefighting