Angela Merkel travels in a robo taxi at IAA 2019

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 13 Sep 2019

At the ongoing the In­ter­na­tional Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt, technology company Continental, together with the French company EasyMile, of which Continental has been a shareholder since 2017, are demonstrating the mobility of the future -- quite literally. Trade fair visitors can commute autonomously and powered only by electricity between two stops. The two companies have set up a demonstration track for a driverless Robo-Taxi between Hall 9 and the IAA Test Drive on the West Outdoor Area.German Chancellor Angela Merkel was one of the visitors to the fair who took a ride in the Cube robo taxi.

The Robo-Taxi Cube is a Continental development platform for driverless vehicles technologies based on the EZ10 shuttle and driverless software from EasyMile. The shuttle service runs on all days of the fair during opening hours. The Robo-Taxi drives independently, a safety operator on board monitors the driving systems during the demonstration drives.

The technology for autonomous vehicles, which Continental and EasyMile use in the Cube, is ready for series production and is already in use worldwide in countries such as the USA, Japan, China, Singapore and Germany. It is currently being used in several pilot projects on manageable, public routes as well as in demarcated areas at company sites, university campuses or trade fair grounds.

Continental says in just a few years, however, self-driving Robo-Taxis could become an important addition to existing mobility systems because they are environmentally friendly, flexible, safe and thus suitable for numerous transportation tasks.

For large cities and rural regions, driverless vehicles offer an effective and efficient solution.

Cube power
The requisite technology is now ready for use as seen by the driving demonstration of the Cube during the IAA. This vehicle is equipped with laser sensors, cameras and radar sensors. In this way, the location can be determined precisely and at the same time obstacles and potentially critical situations can be identified in good time. Proven products from high-volume passenger car production are intelligently integrated and modified, making them suitable for a completely new type of mobility.

Metropolitan regions are growing worldwide, and at the same time the availability of mobility services in rural areas is becoming more widespread - both of these present major challenges for the future. And driverless transport systems, such as the Cube, offer solutions for both scenarios: emission-free and flexibly usable Robo-Taxis can contribute to improving air quality in cities as well as to relieving traffic congestion. In addition, autonomous shuttle buses reduce the risk of accidents, relieve the parking shortage and - due to the quiet electric drive - reduce noise pollution.

And in rural regions, Robo-Taxis can significantly increase individual mobility - especially for people who do not own a private vehicle. Ralph Lauxmann, Head of Systems & Technology at Continental's Chassis & Safety Division, is convinced that future mobility concepts will be multimodal and networked. "In the future, the intelligent interplay of different mobility options will be crucial. A Robo-Taxi such as the CUbE, which can transport several people and pick them up or drop them off individually, considerably reduces the need for infrastructure. Far fewer parking spaces, stops or entrances and exits will be required." The areas won in this way could be used, for example, for green spaces, playgrounds or small parks.

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