Institute for Mechatronic Systems

Mechatronic system approaches play an important role in the development of today's vehicle systems. A deep understanding of the system and the application of corresponding methods open up potentials for increasing efficiency, safety and comfort. In this context, IMS topics are explored around mechatronic vehicle systems, in particular the powertrain.

The diverse research activities in the field of vehicle systems are divided into the following four areas:

- Drivetrain and transmission technology;

- E-mobility;

- testbench technology;

- Software-based lightweight design and predictive maintenance (vehicle 5.0).

The spectrum of concrete research projects ranges from method development for the optimal design of a powertrain, through the prototypical implementation of an innovative hybrid drive, to the development of a longitudinal dynamic test bench for the subjective evaluation of driving maneuvers. The digitization of the automobile continues to open up new research topics such as software-based lightweight construction and predictive maintenance. These are addressed at the IMS together with other institutes of the TU Darmstadt under the title “Vehicle 5.0”.

Drivetrain and transmission technology

As the powertrain becomes more or less electrified, the tasks and requirements of the powertrain change. Purely electric vehicles are today almost exclusively equipped with fixed gearboxes. In hybrid powertrains, however, automatic transmissions are used. The integration of at least one electric machine increases the complexity of the transmission architecture and the functional software. The development of dedicated hybrid transmissions seeks to reduce transmission complexity by taking over functions previously provided by the transmission from the e-machines. This opens up many possibilities for novel drive systems. At the same time, new challenges arise in the design, integration and control of such systems. The IMS is researching in the field of drive and gear technology in order to meet the current challenges and thus to exploit the full potential of innovative systems. The focus is on the optimal design and control of the powertrain. The target criteria that will be optimized are efficiency, driving performance, driving and shifting comfort as well as costs. Some completed and ongoing projects are dealing with different forms of two-drive transmission. This innovative drive concept of the IMS offers a platform for exploring the diverse possibilities of dedicated, electrified transmission systems.


The electrification of the powertrain has been an important topic in the automotive industry for several years. Despite the political support and great efforts on the part of industry, the breakthrough of electromobility has not yet taken place. Topics such as range, infrastructure and costs continue to be major challenges. At the IMS, various projects dealing with the subject of electromobility are currently dealt with, which should contribute to the implementation of ecologically sustainable mobility that is cost-effective and suitable for everyday use. In this case, purely electric drive systems but also plug-in hybrid and range extender concepts are considered. In research at the IMS, emphasis is placed on optimizing the powertrain on the one hand, but on the other hand not looking at the “vehicle” system in isolation, but in the overall context of energy generation and user behavior. For example, the potentials are being explored by linking the transport and energy generation sectors to improve the overall environmental performance. Other projects focus on the implementation of innovative, efficient and high-performance powertrain concepts.

Test Bench Technology

Innovative test bench technologies are required to study and develop innovative vehicle systems. At the IMS, test bench concepts are being developed to meet the changing requirements. Examples are the Car-in-the-Loop test bench and the longitudinally dynamic driving simulator Driveception. The car-in-the-loop test stand is intended to enable the simultaneous examination of all mechatronic vehicle systems. Drive, steering and chassis can be tested together with this patented test bench concept. The innovation of this test bench concept lies in the significantly reduced complexity in comparison to driving simulators with similar characteristics. The driving simulator is a test environment for evaluating longitudinal dynamic maneuvers such as starting and switching operations. Multimodal investigations are used to identify influencing factors on the perception of vehicle longitudinal dynamics.