Changing on the Fly at the Volkswagen Incubator in Dresden

After the successful start of the start-up Incubator, five new start-ups have joined the fray in the second round. Their services range from intelligent charging stations to a parking assistant for parking garages.

The first class is leaving, and the second one’s moving in. Once again, the five start-ups that will be working and researching at the Gläserne Manufaktur for six months starting on March 1 are characterized by their innovative drive. That, in turn, is the product of one thing above all else: curiosity. One good example of that is the Dresden-based company Novum, which is hard at work on the service life of batteries.

Suddenly the battery is dead

“Although everyone uses batteries, we don’t know all that much about their service life. However, most people are all too familiar with the situation in which the smartphone is showing a 20% charge, but then the phone shuts off shortly thereafter. This observation stoked our interest in taking a closer look at the issue,” says CEO Mandy Schipke. And because no one knows exactly when batteries will wear out, the founder explains, today’s batteries are larger than they would actually have to be. Novum still hasn’t decided which project it intends to go into the Incubator with. “We’re still in talks, but we assume that we will be working on equipping charging stations with our battery lab.” This would enable drivers to have their batteries checked during the charging process. “With cars, it is particularly important because no one wants to get stranded in the middle of a forest,” says Schipke, whose company is four years old and aims to get an additional boost through the Incubator program.

Algorithm cuts charging station costs by half

In contrast to EcoG, the start-up ChargeX is working on making the charging stations themselves cheaper by optimizing their use. “The way things have been so far, you have to re-park the cars at a charging station if you want to charge multiple cars. With us, they can all be connected at once,” says one of the founders, Tobias Wagner (24). That doesn’t mean they will all be charged simultaneously. “That would probably blow all the fuses. Instead, we have a self-learning algorithm that charges the cars based on needs and the daily driving routes of the users. This makes it possible to save 50% of the total costs of a charging station.” He hopes for close cooperation with Volkswagen and aims to use the time in the Incubator to optimize the algorithm, among other things, says the founder.

Car parks itself in the parking garage

At present, getting a car to its parking spot in the parking garage means driving it down there yourself. If Alex Domahidi (35) of the Zurich-based start-up Embotech has anything to do with it, however, those days will soon be history. “We will use our time in the Incubator to work on our parking assistant, which allows the driver to get out at the entrance to the parking garage while the car drives itself to the parking spot completely autonomously,” says Domahidi. The basis for this, he explains, is complex physical calculations in real time. “Over the next six months, we want to build a demo version and we look forward to the great conditions in the Manufaktur.” It’s also great, he says, that the city of Dresden has organized an apartment. “That will make the move here from Zurich easier,” the founder points out. But Alex Domahidi isn’t just thinking about collaborating with Volkswagen in Dresden, but also with their headquarters in Wolfsburg. “On the huge grounds there, our application could help by having cars drive themselves to the right spot,” he says.

Also on hand for the occasion was the head of Dresden’s economic development department, Dr. Robert Franke. He had this to say: “Welcome to Dresden. We are delighted that you’re here and that we are the place where the transformation is taking place.”