[Image: fka building in Aachen]

40 years fka: Creating Ideas & Driving Innovations

On June 12, 1981, Prof. Jürgen Helling founded fka GmbH under the then name "fka Forschungsgesellschaft Kraftfahrwesen mbH, Aachen". In 40 years, fka has developed into an independent and internationally active company that has not, however, abandoned its core - the proximity to the university and research.

The aim of fka when it was founded was to establish a link between industry and the university. In doing so, fka has been able to make a name for itself over the past 40 years as an innovation driver in the field of mobility, in line with its motto "Creating Ideas & Driving Innovations". As an attractive employer, fka continues to offer many RWTH employees a diverse and exciting workplace in Aachen beyond their assistantships and doctorates.

Interdisciplinarity is a top priority

Location of fka in Aachenfka is active in many different specialist areas: acoustics, drivetrain, automated driving, electrics & electronics, chassis, vehicle concepts, HMI, body, thermal management, user experience and tire technology. It offers its customers a wide range of services in these areas, from testing and benchmarking to prototyping and consulting.

The interdisciplinarity and cooperation between the individual areas of expertise are the special features of fka. In this way, the employees succeed in creating holistic innovations and never lose sight of the overall vehicle.

160 motivated employees with a passion for future mobility

With its competent and innovative employees, fka works every day with its customers and partners on concepts for the mobility of tomorrow. Long-standing and experienced employees are supported by numerous trainees and student assistants. "Our younger colleagues experience the fka philosophy and the passion for mobility and teamwork during their work. With this well-coordinated team of young and experienced employees, we are able to react quickly to trends, evaluate them and thus shape new innovations," said Jens Kotte, Managing Director of fka.

Strong growth in four decades

fka's strong growth in recent years has led to some geographical changes. Initially, fka and ika were co-located in downtown Aachen. In the course of the completion of the new ika building in 1995, fka moved together with ika to today's Campus Melaten.

Through the strong cooperation network, fka has access to a broad infrastructure of simulation and testing tools. These include test benches, such as a crash track, a highly dynamic driving simulator, drive test benches and many more. With the MTS Flat-Trac® IV CT plus, fka itself also has the most modern and powerful freely accessible flat track tire test bench in Europe.

Unique tire test bench in Aachen

This allows fka to test tires on a flat surface at a speed of up to 250 km/h. During the measurement, the Flat-Trac not only records all relevant forces and moments, but also various additional information such as tire temperatures at different points or inflation pressure. The test bench is used in both industrial and research projects.MTS Flat-Trac® IV CT plus at fka

Possible applications include the acquisition of quasi-stationary as well as transient force transmission properties, the assessment of skew stiffness, run-in length, the acquisition of highly dynamic braking and traction slip properties, the determination of dynamic vertical stiffnesses as well as high-speed tests and driving profile replications.

Test vehicle for automated driving

fka has the methods and technologies to test prototype developments of automated driving functions in the fka test vehicle. In addition, customer vehicles can also be modified and equipped according to their requirements.

The research vehicle designed and built by fka is equipped for the development as well as testing of assistance and automation functions. This fka's test vehicleincludes sensor equipment for the perception of the vehicle's environment. Lidar, radar and ultrasonic sensors as well as cameras detect relevant objects around the vehicle. The vehicle can wirelessly receive and provide externally available information via a communication interface based on the IEEE 802.11p standard. The current position of the vehicle and its state of motion can be tracked via an RTK-GNSS (Real Time Kinematics) system if required.

In order to give customers the opportunity to test their own vehicles, fka also offers complete or complementary vehicle modifications. This includes the design, implementation and installation of hardware solutions as well as the implementation of necessary software architectures. Accompanying this, required safety concepts and mechanisms can also be developed.

Trends and innovations from the USA at first hand

fka has a subsidiary in Silicon Valley in the USA, fka SV. It forms a link between German engineering technology and the software companies and start-ups in the Valley. The static driving simulator enables research work to be carried out directly on site, while an identical simulator infka's static driving simulator Aachen enables comparative studies with test subjects from North America and Europe.

Outlook for the coming years

In the coming years, fka will continue to work at full speed on an efficient, safe and fascinating mobility of the future. "As in recent years, the topic of sustainability will be the focus of our innovations and developments. We will take a holistic view of vehicle sustainability and develop it further with new creative ideas," says Jens Kotte.

In addition, vehicle users must always be taken into account, which is why fka can draw from its own pool of test subjects for user studies and also makes this pool available to its customers.

fka develops the listening vehicleBesides developing methods for safeguarding and developing automated vehicles, fka is working on teaching the vehicle to listen. This feature offers enormous safety benefits, for example, in the siren recognition of emergency vehicles.

Furthermore, fka has successfully used drones in recent years with levelXdata, to provide high-quality real-world traffic data for the further development of AI-based algorithms.

Jens Kotte: "As a research facility, provider of creative ideas and driver of innovationr, fka has done great work over the past 40 years and will continue to do so in the future."

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Julian Refghi M.Sc.
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Phone: +49 241 8861 227

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