Forward-looking Research for Safer, More Sustainable and Multimodal Mobility NFF doctoral prizes awarded in Braunschweig
The NFF doctoral prizes are awarded every two years to raise the profile of young researchers at the Automotive Research Centre Niedersachsen (NFF), a research centre at Technische Universität Braunschweig. Three prizes were awarded on 13 November: the first prize of 2,500 euros to Dr. Marvin Klingner and the two second prizes of 1,250 euros each to Dr. Axel Sturm and Dr. Christian Raulf. All three dissertations are dedicated to the mobility of the future – by improving the environmental perception of automated vehicles, optimising the coordination of electrified drives and automated driving functions, and taking a holistic approach to model-based vehicle development.
“This year we had an exceptionally strong field of applicants from the various research areas of the NFF, so for the first time we awarded three theses. In their dissertations and numerous other projects, all three researchers have demonstrated impressive achievements in translating research results into industrial practice. With their successful transfer of knowledge and research into society, they have made an important contribution to achieving the NFF’s goals,” said Professor Thomas Vietor, spokesperson for the NFF Board.
“The three doctoral theses impressively demonstrate the scientific breadth and application orientation with which the mobility of the future is being researched at TU Braunschweig – particularly in the areas of automated driving, machine learning, electrification and systematic, holistic product development. The NFF doctoral prize is now a highly visible flagship for the promotion of young talent at the NFF and TU Braunschweig. I would like to congratulate all the award winners,” said Professor Peter Hecker, Vice President for Research and Early Career Scientists at TU Braunschweig.
Dr.-Ing. Marvin Klingner from the Institute for Communications Technology: Neural networks
Dr. Marvin Klingner from the Institute for Communications Technology received the first prize for his outstanding dissertation on environmental perception in automated driving (supervisor: Prof. Tim Fingscheidt). He describes machine learning methods that improve the perception of complex environments.
When camera sensors are used for environmental perception, information about the environment can be extracted from the image sequences with the help of neural networks. Specifically, this involves objects and their position in three-dimensional space. In his dissertation, Dr. Klingner contributes to the effective use of these models in practical applications. To this end, he has combined the models for different perceptual tasks, flexibly adapted them to changing environments and requirements, and tested them in use.
Dr. Marvin Klingner was able to achieve higher performance and robustness in the area of semantic segmentation (object classes) and depth estimation (3D position) compared to previous methods in the literature. In addition, he was able to demonstrate the functionality of his models when learning new semantic classes and data domains as well as model validation in live operation.
Dr.-Ing. Axel Sturm, Institute of Automotive Engineering: Electrified drives
Dr. Axel Sturm was awarded second prize for his dissertation at the Institute of Automotive Engineering (supervisor: Prof.-Dr. Ing. Ferit Kücükay). He investigated the influence of automated vehicles on electrified drives and their concept development. For example, the additional hardware architecture required to implement the automated functions leads to a higher vehicle weight and correspondingly higher energy requirements. Automated driving itself leads to a change in driving profiles. As part of the work, a study was carried out for a mid-range vehicle with different levels of automation (automated with motorway pilot, non-automated) and drive systems. A combustion engine, a mild hybrid as well as plug-in hybrid and electric vehicle drives were tested. It was shown that automation leads to a reduction in energy consumption in all cases and that the reduction potential increases with the degree of electrification.
Dr.-Ing. Christian Raulf, Institute for Engineering Design: Model-based vehicle development
Dr. Christian Raulf from the Institute of Engineering Design (supervisor: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Thomas Vietor) also received a second prize. His research focuses on the model-based development of innovative vehicle concepts from a product development perspective. The starting point is industry trends – such as electrification, autonomous driving, digitalisation and networking, as well as new business models such as car sharing – that have an impact on the development of future vehicles. The aim of the work is to develop a methodology that illustrates the relationships between trends and requirements for vehicle concepts. For this purpose, a system model will be created according to Model-Based Systems Engineering and – as an innovation in model-based vehicle development – complemented by a user and future scenario model.
NFF doctoral prize: continuation until 2027 decided
Since 2015, the NFF doctoral prize has been awarded every two years for outstanding scientific work that supports the NFF’s vision of sustainable mobility. The winning dissertations must be distinguished in terms of their categorisation within the NFF’s research areas and their specialist discipline. “We would like to thank the two founders, Dr. Volker Hanshold and his wife Ulrike Hanshold-Kunerth, for their great financial support and their forward-looking perspective, with which they have additionally motivated young scientists over the past eight years to scientifically develop and implement innovations in the field of sustainable mobility with prize money totalling 25,000 euros,” says Professor Thomas Vietor.
As a prestigious award, the NFF doctoral prize plays an important role in promoting knowledge and technology transfer at TU Braunschweig. In order to further strengthen the cooperation between science and industry, Dr. Axel Heinrich, Spokesperson of the NFF advisory board and Head of Electrics/Electronics Development at Volkswagen AG, together with his wife Andrea Heinrich, will continue to honour two young scientists in 2025 and 2027 with 2,500 euros each, thus supporting the interdisciplinary approach of the research centre.