Mobility as a Living Space – Ingeniously Designed

Mobility Increases Quality of Life with Automated Driving, Electrification and Connectivity

If we could have anything we wanted, what could a great place to live look like? It would probably be surrounded by clean air, unspoiled nature and a stress-free environment combined with extensive amenities. What nobody really needs is traffic jams, noise and a hectic environment – whether in the countryside or the city. One of the requirements for such an ingeniously designed living space is flexible and seamless mobility, which should be safe, clean and intelligently connected. This is no longer a thing of the future – it is entirely feasible.

Man in Motion – The new Continental Image Film 

Go-ahead for the CUbE

What is black and yellow, virtually silent and looks like a cable car on four wheels? The CUbE robot taxi. The pioneering development is already being tested on several tracks at the plant premises in Frankfurt to further promote autonomous driving and passengers in autonomous vehicles. CUbE stands for Continental Urban Mobility Experience – Continental is using this intelligent vehicle to research and test driverless passenger transportation. As is already possible today with some normal taxis, the CUbE can be called using an app. The self-driving robot taxi then arrives to fulfill individual mobility requirements. This would mean that many people would not need their own vehicle, which would noticeably reduce private transport, making congested roads and the tedious search for a parking space a thing of the past. For Dr. Andree Hohm, head of the self-driving car project at Continental, the benefits are obvious. “It is much smarter to operate driverless vehicles as continuously as possible than to have countless private cars, which on average are not even used for 23 hours a day, standing around taking up space – which could be used for parks and playgrounds, for example.

The pioneering development is already being tested on several tracks at the plant premises in Frankfurt to further promote autonomous driving and passengers in autonomous vehicles.
What is black and yellow, virtually silent and looks like a cable car on four wheels? The CUbE robot taxi.

Rethink in order

According to a study by the UNO, by 2050 two-thirds of the world’s population will be living in cities. In such densely populated urban areas, driving a car increasingly means sitting in traffic. This is underlined by an astonishing figure – in 2016, the average speed in London was only 7.8 mph. Furthermore, added to this statistically proven snail’s pace, is the daily gridlock, accidents, emissions, notorious lack of parking spaces and stress. “New ideas are in demand,” says Frank Jourdan, member of the Executive Board of Continental AG and head of the Chassis & Safety Division. “That’s why robot taxis no longer belong only to the realm of Hollywood science-fiction films. We are working intensively on the CUbE and its practical trials – concepts such as this one can revolutionize urban mobility.”

The future of individual mobility in cities is autonomous, electric and becoming part of the sharing economy.

Frank Jourdan,
member of the Executive Board of Continental AG and chairman
of the Executive Board of the Chassis & Safety Division

Charging made easy

Users of electric vehicles always ask two questions: Why does it always take so long to charge at an electric filling station, and which filling station is suitable for my vehicle? There is now one good answer to both these questions: As a world premiere, AllCharge makes electric cars universally fit for all types of charging technology, therefore saving drivers a significant amount of time.

What type of power can be used?

Nowadays, recharging vehicle batteries is not as practical as we would like in our everyday life. Charging with alternating current takes a long time, while charging with direct current is significantly faster but not possible for all vehicles. At the same time, alternating current charging stations are much more widely available, because they are cheaper to buy and additional direct current charging stations require more space, which is not possible for every charging station provider. This was a real dilemma, which has now been solved. “The AllCharge charging system is the universal key for charging at any type of station,” explains Dr. Martin Brüll, the expert responsible for the AllCharge system. “The system is equipped with a converter for alternating and direct current, which constantly regulates the optimal voltage for the battery. This means that the AllCharge system can handle up to 800 V and a power output from the current 150 Kw up to a potential 350 kW.” What does this mean for range and charging times, Dr. Brüll? “A 350-kW charging output can produce a range of around 150 kilometers within a charging time of five minutes. This makes charging up to 12 times faster possible, which is a huge plus for convenience in electric mobility.”

 

Regardless of how rapidly the infrastructure develops in the future, a vehicle equipped with AllCharge charging technology will always be able to get the best out of the charging station.

Martin Brüll,
expert responsible for the AllCharge
charging system at Continental.

Refuel without refueling

The first gasoline station in the world was actually a pharmacy. Bertha Benz was with her two sons in the Benz Patent-Motorwagen Nummer 3 when she broke down south of Heidelberg. So, she stopped at the city pharmacy in Wiesloch to buy some ligroin from Mr. Ockel so she could carry on to Pforzheim. That was in August 1888 – and since then we have been providing fuel at specially designated places. It may be hard to imagine, but is it possible that we will soon say goodbye to the filling pump? Who knows – perhaps, in future, we will never again have to interrupt our journeys and waste precious time while our batteries charge up. Thanks to a simple principle, which many of us are already familiar with from our electric toothbrushes and smartphone charging stations, we are coming ever closer to this vision – even if the perpetual motion machine has not yet been invented. For the first time, in June 2017, Continental presented automatic wireless charging (more commonly known as inductive charging) for electric cars on one of its plant’s test tracks, the Contidrom in Jeversen.

 
 

Unbeatable comfort

“There are numerous reasons why today’s electric car drivers do not use every opportunity to charge up. Rain, cold, insufficient space – all these factors make playing around with a charging cable a less-than-pleasurable experience,” explains Thomas Röhrl, expert in the inductive charging system at Continental. Especially for relatively short parking periods, this can lead to drivers shying away from the effort involved and passing up on an opportunity to charge their vehicles. “Whether a quick stop at the supermarket, parking at the cinema or using communal parking spaces, wherever the inductive charging system is provided in future, it will be very easy to make use of any opportunity to charge up,” continues Röhrl. This applies to both parking up and simply passing by, with the bottom line that many short charging periods equate to the same amount of energy as one long period. As a result, the range of vehicles can be increased without any effort. “Continental’s inductive charging solution can reach to up to 11 kilowatts: With this charging output, one minute of charging time is equal to approximately one kilometer in range. “Only 20 minutes of charging means up to an additional 20 kilometers in range,” says Röhrl, adding: “it doesn’t get more practical or convenient than this.”

Genius is defined as the creative power of the mind – can we use this to design mobility as a living space? Of course – people all over the world are already contributing their ideas to increasing quality of life, protecting the environment and improving mobility as a whole. Technological development has always followed the desire to innovate and the visions of today will be the realities of tomorrow. 
 

Continental Magazine Issue 2/2017