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Driving the shift – Long-term partnerships for sustainable innovation

Group photo
Representatives from KTH and Scania gathered outside for a quick group photo before the event.
Published May 13, 2022

ITRL is a center located in the heart of the KTH campus in Stockholm. The center studies the sustainability transformation of the transportation system in the light of automation, digitalization, connectivity and electrification.

The research center is founded jointly by KTH, Scania, Ericsson and Region Stockholm and facilitates collaboration in research and innovation projects, often with testbeds, live experiments and demonstrations.

We meet up with Jonas Mårtensson, Professor at the Division of Decision and Control Systems at KTH and Director of ITRL and Ulf Ceder, Senior Manger future transport eco-system at Scania and member of executive committee at ITRL, during THE Innovation and Impact Summit hosted by KTH. 

Portrait of Ulf Ceder
Ulf Ceder, Senior Manger future transport eco-system at Scania and co-director at ITRL

Ulf, Scania is a partner to ITRL, what is the role of Scania within ITRL?

"ITRL is a competence centre with Scania as one of the core funding partners. The role of ITRL is mainly to facilitate integrated transport research. It means for instance to perform research on system sustainability effects from new technology, such as electrification and automated transport solutions."

ITRL involves researchers from many parts of KTH 

Jonas, What does it mean to have Scania onboard at ITRL?

"Scania is very important for ITRL. Not only does Scania provide significant funding to the center, Scania is also active in our management team and they participate in many of our projects. This means that we can work closely between academic research, industrial development and innovation. This is also true for our other partners Ericsson and Region Stockholm. Together we can be better at addressing relevant questions and finding relevant solutions for the transport system. ITRL is an important center for KTH where we work interdisciplinary and involve researchers from many parts of KTH."

Portrait of Jonas Mårtensson
Jonas Mårtensson, director at ITRL

Ulf, which projects in the sustainability area have you been involved in together with ITRL?

"Scania has done a number of projects together with ITRL, other partners and researchers at KTH. One is the off-peak project where the main role of ITRL was to make research on noise but also on system effects from off-peak deliveries (nighttime deliveries). Another project we collaborate on right now is the HITS project. This is a four year project involving many actors in the eco-system with external funding from Vinnova and FFI. It explores new sustainable solutions for urban last mile logistics. In this project, Scania is the project leader and ITRL performs the actual research."

KTH and Scania are important for the future of Sweden, Stockholm and Södertälje

Today, Sweden is seen as one of the most innovative countries in Europe and the Stockholm region is a leader on innovation among large cities and regions in Europe. However, what can be done to improve the innovation system both in Sweden, Stockholm and Södertälje?

"One of the reasons why Sweden is one of the most innovative countries is our capability to collaborate between academy, industry and public, Ulf comments. I think we can and need to strengthen this capability even more. What we need is system innovations. Here ITRL and Scania can work together and strengthen the innovation culture in the Stockholm region even more. Even if Scania is a global company there is a large advantage of testing new technologies close to our R&D and production facilities in Södertälje. Our home region has a great advantage with both a strong automotive industry and a strong IT-industry."

"Iagree", says Jonas. "I think we should continue and accelerate what we are already doing. Academia, industry and the public sector need to work in close collaboration to define and solve the most important challenges together. We can work more with people exchange between KTH and other organizations, and we can be even better at involving KTH’s students in our work. Students are often very enthusiastic and eager to innovate and start new companies."

Electrical trucks and remote control of driverless vehicles  

A woman behind a steering wheel.
A guest testing the remote driving system

During THE Summit, you have met guests from all over the world visiting ITRL. What have you presented to the guests and what is your impression?

"We have explained how successful the strategic partnership between KTH and Scania is, says Jonas. We presented how we work together with people mobility, with large research projects, education programs and with research and innovation. From ITRL we had two of our industrial PhD students present their projects. Rafael Andreolli presented the project HITS, where solutions for city logistics are studied. His work is about modular vehicles that can be used for multiple purposes throughout the day. Lina Rylander presented the project TIFF where the service market system for driverless trucks is studied - How do we handle vehicle faults, maintenance and repair when there is no driver in the vehicle to make those decisions? Furthermore the PhD students Lin Zhao and Frank Jiang demonstrated the features of remote control of driverless vehicles in our lab."

Ulf, did Jonas forget anything?

"No, we presented the strengths in the partnership between Scania and KTH in general (ASP) including the partnership we have with ITRL. We were also happy to present our collaboration with Södertälje Science Park and to be able to show the guests one of Scania’s electrical trucks!"

Text: Annika Engström

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This year the THE Summit on Impact and Innovation was hosted by KTH at the KTH Campus.

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