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Munich Airport, MIT Lab Partner on Smart City

Munich airport

Munich airport (Flughafen München GmbH)

5 November 2018. An engineering lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the R&D hub at Munich, Germany’s international airport are studying the use of digital technologies to improve urban life, using the hub’s campus as a laboratory. The Senseable City Lab at MIT and LabCampus GmbH announced the agreement on 1 November, but financial aspects of the deal were not disclosed.

LabCampus GmbH is the research and business innovation hub located adjacent to, and also a subsidiary of, Flughafen München. The company says it brings start-ups and more established enterprises together with research institutes and investors to promote innovative solutions, taking advantage of its proximity to the airport and the 150,000 passengers that visit the airport each day, connected to 260 destinations. LabCampus is supported by German research and academic institutions Fraunhofer Institute and Friedrich Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, as well as UnternehmerTUM, the start-up incubator at Technical University of Munich.

MIT’s Senseable City Lab is the first non-European partner with LabCampus. The Senseable City Lab is a cross-disciplinary research group studying digital networks and infrastructure in the urban space. The lab says its researchers include designers, planners, engineers, physicists, biologists, and social scientists. In May, the lab’s director Carlo Ratti and colleagues, published an analysis and forecast of urban traffic patterns altered by self-driving vehicles in the journal Nature, which projected the extent of fleet-sharing in congested cities like New York. In a related project, the Senseable City Lab collaborated with the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions in the Netherlands to design autonomous robotic boats for Amsterdam’s canals.

In their three-year collaboration, LabCampus and the MIT lab will study digital solutions for creating a smart urban environment, beginning with LabCampus. Teams are expected to outline digital tools to optimize mobility, energy, and connectivity, designing in these concepts from the beginning. “We will be working with MIT researchers,” says LabCampus managing director Marc Wagener in a statement, “to study and evaluate the most important trends and digital technologies that can benefit us in the development and successful implementation of a smart city concept.”

Ratti adds, “This is an excellent opportunity for us to be involved in creating a smart city from the earliest stages. It gives us a chance to look ahead and weave everything, including future needs, into the infrastructure from the very beginning.”

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