Continental is exhibiting how a driverless vehicle could be used to stage and deploy delivery robots, taking packages to the consumer, at the ongoing Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2019. The company is steadily pushing the boundaries of autonomous vehicle technology, exploring new use cases and advancements.
At CES 2019, Continental is showcasing the seamless integration of a driverless vehicle and a delivery robot presenting a more effective and efficient distribution of goods. The Continental Urban Mobility Experience (CUbE) is the company’s autonomous electrified development platform, which is considered a solution for urban ‘first or last-mile’ mobility. This type of vehicle, often referred to as a robo-taxi or pod will be a part of the seamless mobility value chain, the company noted. Its purpose will be extended to goods delivery to further utilise the available transport capacity and reduce idle times.
Continental said market estimations show that the need to transport goods will outpace the strongly-growing need for people transport in densely populated areas. With expertise in scalable technologies and solutions like sensors, environment perception and modelling, localisation, positioning, situation analysis, decision making and mechatronic actuators, Continental claims to have the solutions and know-how to address this need.
Urban delivery can use synergies from automated driving, noted the technology company. It said goods and parcel delivery to residential areas is a growing and dynamic market, driven by e-commerce sales that are increasing every year. The growth of this segment is also leading to the importance of delivery cost per hour, positioning last-mile and delivery services as a differentiator. Continental views automated goods delivery as an integral part of future urban mobility as an addition to conventional goods delivery. The CUbE can carry one or multiple delivery robots and deploy them to handle the last yards of the goods and parcel delivery logistics chain.
Ralph Lauxmann, Head, Systems and Technology, Chassis and Safety division, Continental, said with the help of robot delivery, the company’s vision for seamless mobility can extend right to your doorstep. Continental’s vision of cascaded robot delivery leverages a driverless vehicle to carry delivery robots, creating an efficient transport team, he added. Lauxmann noted that both are electrified, both are autonomous and, in principle, both can be based on the same scalable technology portfolio. He said, “These synergies create an exciting potential for holistic delivery concepts using similar solutions for different platforms. Beyond this technology foundation, it’s reasonable to expect a whole value chain to develop in this area.”
The challenges to a delivery robot parallel what we already solve for in automated vehicles, noted Jeremy McClain, Director, Systems and Technology, Continental North America. He said delivery robots will also require technology that is just as advanced and robust as automotive solutions.
Furthermore, driverless vehicles will represent a very important element in the Smart Cities of the future, observed Continental. It said autonomous vehicles are considered by many experts as a key element of future mobility concepts to solve the challenges of the urbanisation. City planners see driverless vehicles as a valuable addition to public mass transport by eliminating the need for a privately-owned car to get to the nearest point of access to other means of transport.
There will be peaks in demand for driverless vehicles during the day, and to make use of driverless vehicles outside those peak ‘rush’ hours is where robot-delivery comes in, said McClain. He added that Continental sees great potential in its automotive technology to support robotics companies in developing autonomous delivery robots as an additional use case for driverless vehicles.