Many people are interested in cars, but hardly anyone understands them as well as Steffen Müller. The renowned researcher will bring his expertise in suspension control and driver assistance systems to the TU Berlin as an Einstein-Professor. There, the engineering scientist also completed his first degree, then he conducted research at Cambridge University and at the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to his appointment to the University of Kaiserslautern, he worked as a project manager at the BMW Research and Innovation Center.
Please close your eyes for a moment and think about your research project. What's the first thing you see?
The Berlin city centre with autonomous, networked electric robotaxis - together with pedestrians and cyclists who are no longer scared of being hit.
How would you explain your research project to a child?
Autonomous vehicles are like taxis without drivers, and will make journeys better and safer than the cars of today.
What surprises people most of all when you tell them about your research?
How much there is still to be done.
Who would you like to swap a working day with, and what would you then like to do?
The transport minister. And then I would enjoy scrutinising the ministry's strategy.
What have you learnt about life from your research?
How to recognise large-scale interrelationships.
What would you be today if you hadn't become a scientist?
A manager in an automotive company, I guess.
Is there a part of Berlin you find particularly fascinating, or where you feel especially at ease?
The Grunewald Tower, Savignyplatz and Hackescher Markt.
What surprises you most about Berlin? What wouldn't you have expected in Berlin and what do you miss? What makes Berlin unique for your research?
People in Berlin are still mostly relaxed and receptive - despite all the contradictions and problems. I like the Berlin humour, although I would sometimes prefer more "heart" and less "Schnauze" (irreverence). I miss clear concepts and leadership as well as more professionalism in Berlin politics let alone significant research funding at the local level. The wide range of research institutes and disciplines is unique for my research.