The project

MONOCAB OWL is supported by:

A fourfold innovative transport system for the rural area, which


  1. combines the advantages of individual and public transport,
  2. uses an existing single-track railroad line in two-way traffic,
  3. takes up the gyroscope technology known since 1907 and the paternoster principle,
  4. is controlled autonomously and can be ordered individually via app.


Mobility should also be fast, safe and comfortable in rural areas. This is possible thanks to autonomous rail transport, which uses disused existing rail lines.
We drive on a track with MONOCABs in oncoming traffic. As in the paternoster, a ride always comes,
for which I do not have to wait long: Principle of abundance instead of principle of need.
We make public passenger NAH transport individual by driving with single cabs.
We call this principle IPNV (Individual Passenger Transport).
MONOCAB combines the idea of a cabin cab with

  • automated driving,
  • of a historic railroad line,
  • a voluntary enterprise,
  • a regional network,
  • the technology of the gyro-stabilized monorail,
  • the concept of the paternoster

a means of transport for the future of rural areas.

On the single-track Lemgo-Extertal line, the MONOCABs are to travel from one station to the next on standby, just like in a paternoster. This can happen in oncoming traffic, because the cabs balance on a single rail thanks to gyroscopic force (gyroscope principle). If required, the passenger books a MONOCAB via app like a cab: "Alexa, go ahead and get the
Wagons!" The MONOCAB then reacts individually. It is autonomously controlled for the user within the movement chain and at the same time master-controlled via route sensors and movement data. The MONOCABs run 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. At peak times, more cabs come onto the route, at night fewer.

The recombination of existing elements guarantees fast implementation.

Funding under the funding guideline "A future-proof, sustainable mobility system through automated driving and networking" will enable the project executing agency to realize the first steps of this vision. In the course of the project, a prototype of a MONOCAB is to be developed and tested on a railroad track that has been taken out of service in accordance with railroad law.
section between Bösingfeld and Rinteln will be tested. Based on the knowledge gained with the test operation, the development of functioning MONOCABs for passenger transport will be continued in follow-up projects.

Overall objective of the project

The National Platform "Future of Mobility" sets us the goal of "making tomorrow's mobility healthier, more climate-friendly, more efficient, more convenient and more affordable". One means of achieving this is considered to be "meeting individual mobility needs by creating simple, fast and affordable
Mobility offerings."

In its resolution and package of measures "Gutes Leben auf dem Land" (Good Life in the Countryside), the Bundestag in March 2019 set the federal government the task of "creating the conditions for people to want to live in rural areas and for public services to ensure everything they need." And immediately named a main problem: "Many people would like to live in rural areas if they didn't have to fear being helpless there ... without their own car." With MONOCAB, we are addressing these two problem areas and relying on the future technology of autonomous transport.

How does mobility become successful in rural areas?
It has to be better than the car: it has to be available 24/7 (also during leisure time), it has to be safer than the car, it has to be optimally connectable, it has to offer an individual atmosphere like the car, it has to be more environmentally and climate friendly than the car, and it has to cost less than the car.

In road traffic, there are already test fields for autonomous transport. Initial implementations are planned, including in Ostwestfalen-Lippe (OWL). Autonomous transports on rails offer many additional opportunities for meaningful practical tests for the new technology.

Currently disused but still operational railroad lines are an ideal testing and development area for this. One such area are the tracks of the Bega and Extertal Railway between Lemgo, Dörentrup, Barntrup, Extertal and Rinteln in the districts of Lippe and Hameln-Pyrmont.

This rail infrastructure is no longer connected to the DB Netz AG rail network, but is maintained and kept operational by the voluntary enterprise Landeseisenbahn Lippe e. V.. Currently, only a museum railroad operates there. The North Lippe communities of Dörentrup, Barntrup and Extertal, which lie along the line, have precisely the problems that the Bundestag addresses with its "Good Life in the Countryside" program. Thus, the infrastructure in North Lippe is ideally suited for the development, testing and implementation of new autonomous rail transport concepts, especially for rural areas.

The project shall

  • use a disused single-track railroad line for rail-based individual passenger transport (IPNV),
  • make the track suitable for two-way traffic operation,
  • The aim is to provide residents in rural areas with attractive and climate-friendly transport links without the need for their own cars,
  • test the individual booking of rides via cell phone app and the autonomous control of MONOCABs in the field,
  • Allow mixed traffic on the same line through agile occupancy planning (MONOCABs, freight trains, museum rail operations).

The vision

With this story of a good future for rural areas, we applied to the "E-Dialect Future" competition in 2018.

The gyroscope

Tai lives in Hanoi. The boy holds the wooden spinning top, wrapped in a white cord, with his left hand. A metal weight is stuck in the lower end. In his right hand Tai holds the end of the string. He lets go of the spinning top and at the same time pulls out the string forcefully to the right. The spinning top bounces onto the street, jumps up again and then stands securely like a figure skater doing a pirouette.

Rotating gyroscopes, also called gyros, maintain their position in space and put significant resistance to attempts to tilt their axis of rotation. The gyroscopic force is used in many devices to stabilize the position in space: in the gyrocompass, in gyroscopes and gyrometers, in missiles and spaceships, in the Segway.
And in a strange trajectory ...

The balance

Louis Brennan was an Irishman, an inventor and lived in Australia. In 1909, Brennan wanted to solve two problems of the railroad: its unsteady, wobbly running and slow travel through curves. He invented a gyro-stabilized monorail that ran perfectly smoothly and could race through a 32-meter-diameter rail circle at 70 mph.

But his ride had a different problem: All the people who saw it took their breath away, like a tightrope walk in the circus dome. The ride was actually balancing on a single rail with two bogies that looked like inline skaters. This was possible because two rotating gyroscopes stabilized the track and immediately caught any tilting motion. But it was very hard to believe.

German newspaper publisher August Scherl wanted to build a test track in the Taunus Mountains in 1911. Unfortunately, the project fell through at the time. But 110 years later ...

The autonomous

Sarah is from Detmold and has always had quite a mind of her own. Her school friends were interested in chakras and ascendants, but Sarah was interested in infinitesimal calculus. She is now studying mechatronics at the OWL University of Applied Sciences in Lemgo. This weekend, she plans to visit her grandparents in a village in North Lippe.

Sarah doesn't always have it easy with her own head. On the one hand, she hates the crowds on the bus. On the other hand, she hates the crowds on the roads and the fact that Greenland is melting away. "It would be best," she muses, "if there were a mixture of train, cab and own car. Autonomously controlled. Environmentally friendly like the train, comfortable like a cab, individual like your own car. And my music is on!" Typical North Lippe! A Cab will come ...

The track

Stefan Holtkamp is a track supervisor. Actually, he is a clerk in the district administration, but - of his own free will - he is a linesman at the Lippe State Railroad. Even as a young boy, he could never get enough of buffers, buffer stops and three-light head signals.

At that time on track width H0 = 16.5 mm. Now his track has a gauge of 1.435 m. Back then, his track was just under four meters long, now it is six kilometers, between the Dörentrup and Bega stations. There, he knows almost every one of the approximately 18,000 rail fasteners personally because he has already tightened them with his wrench.

The Landeseisenbahn Lippe is a voluntary enterprise with about 200 members and 30 highly qualified professionals. For 33 years, it has been in charge of the Exter and Bega Valley Railway between Bösingfeld and Dörentrup and the museum railway operation. As a tourism brand and reliable partner, it networks trolleys, hiking trails, open youth work, employment promotion, educational opportunities, cultural events and gastronomy in North Lippe.
And the mobility development ...

The field

Dr. Axel Lehmann is District Administrator of the Lippe district. As a historian and member of Germany's oldest party, he has a feel for the effectiveness of traditions. As a district administrator, he thinks entrepreneurially and wants to help shape the future of the Lippe district. This region, rich in forests and hills, is partly urban and partly very rural, for example in Nordlippe. Is Nordlippe something of a problem child? No - the district administrator shakes his head.

Nordlippe is an ideal field for the Lippe 2025 future concept. The OWL University of Applied Sciences in Lemgo and the Innovation Land Lab Dörentrup make North Lippe "innovative as an educational region". Active and optimally networked associations such as the Landeseisenbahn Lippe make North Lippe "strong in village development." And now a mobility project can be added that would make Nordlippe a Mecca of mobility research and development. And to do this, it makes use of a great deal that already exists: The route is free and ready for operation. The players and partners are standing on the platform, ready to depart. Axel Lehmann is pleased: "One track for both directions, and no waiting times? That's really Lippish!" MONOCABs on the fine line between individual transport and local public transport ...

Description of the project

What is the idea?

Attractive means of transport for life in the countryside


Rural areas lack a transportation system that combines the advantages of individual and public transportation. Buses and trains can serve sparsely populated areas only poorly. At the same time, the supply of local stores, schools, doctors' offices, etc. is becoming increasingly thin. That's why most residents there are fixated on their own cars. One reason for rural migration is that more and more people do not like this dependence on the car, e.g., for reasons of age, cost or climate protection. But many also avoid buses and trains because of the involuntary proximity with strangers.

MONOCABs can fill the gap: They travel individually like a cab without a driver and are a train at the same time. They use existing single-track railroad tracks in two-way traffic. This is possible because, thanks to the gyroscope technology invented in 1907, they travel on a single track and can thus meet each other on the line.

And the MONOCABs move back and forth along the rail line like Paternoster cabins in a constant flow, autonomously controlled. Anyone who wants to ride along books a ride via a cell phone app and boards a MONOCAB at one of the stops.

How does the idea work?

The idea has worked since 1909 ...


Rotating gyroscopes, also called gyros, maintain their position in space and put significant resistance to attempts to tilt their axis of rotation. Gyroscopic force is used in many devices to stabilize the position in space: in the gyrocompass, in gyroscopes and gyrometers, in missiles and spaceships, in the Segway. In 1909, the Irish inventor Louis Brennan (1852-1932) applied this principle to a new type of railroad that could run on a single track.

We want to use this proven technology to enable two-way traffic on a single-track rail line. The gyro-stabilized vehicles each balance on one rail of the track. They are so narrow that they can pass each other on the track. Passengers sit with their backs to the center of the track so that they can board comfortably from the side.

The autonomously controlled MONOCABs constantly travel back and forth on the track and are booked individually for a trip via cell phone app. In times of stronger demand, more cabins are added to the track.

Who came up with the idea and how?

How can we set up a transport system on the old railroad line that is as comfortable as a car? In other words, available at any time of the day, reaching its destination without changing trains and offering passengers a comparable individual atmosphere?

What problems does the idea solve?


  1. On the one hand, public transport is becoming more necessary in rural areas because stores, doctors' surgeries, schools, etc. are disappearing there and more people want to do without their own cars. On the other hand, it is becoming thinner and thus less attractive.
  2. Rail lines in rural areas are mostly single-track, so two-way traffic is difficult. The conventional trains and buses are often too large for the demand.
  3. Many people don't like having to be close to strangers on buses and trains.
  4. In addition to the peak times in the morning before school starts, the times at which trips are made are spread more widely throughout the day as a result of new working time models and home office offerings.
  5. Villages lose their attractiveness, especially for older residents, because they often have no reasonable connection to buses and trains.
  6. PNV costs rise due to high personnel expenses. Bus drivers, train drivers and train attendants are
  7. Maintenance and repair of the line and its bridges are expensive and labor-intensive. So far, this has not been offset by a sufficiently large overall social benefit of the line.
  8. The wear and tear of the track and bridges accelerates with the weight of the vehicles running on them.

Why in North Lippe?


The line from Bielefeld to Lemgo and on to Barntrup and Rinteln is an ideal example of all the railroad law and operational constraints that occur in rural areas in a small space. Developments can be mapped and checked here on a 1:1 scale.


The project fits into the Living Lab of Nordlippe!

The route is maintained through civic commitment in an honorary capacity. The district of Lippe has a stake in the route through its participation in the VBE. This is the basis for the acceptance of the stakeholders and the political bodies and provides the planning security for the research

Research questions

  1. Development of a prototype for gyro-stabilized MONOCABs for operation on single-track railroad lines
  2. Development of an autonomous control system for a paternoster-like MONOCAB transport system for individual booking of rides via cell phone app
  3. Development of a Bigdata and AI system to store, visualize, and analyze data obtained from driving operations for transparent project monitoring, improved safety and energy efficiency of autonomously driving MONOCABs, and improved user acceptance.
  4. Social-psychological research of user behavior