In the next decade or so, taxis are likely to be replaced by autonomous cars like the new Continental Cube. In fact, companies like Google and Uber are already working on technology that will lead to this scenario.
Continental is known best for their tires, but they are also a major supplier of automotive electrics and systems. Now, they have built the Cube to demonstrate driverless mobility, and to test autonomous systems and technology.
The Cube prototype actually stands for “Continental Urban moBility Experience”. And it is based on the company’s own sensors and control units.
Continental has been doing experiments with the Cube. One highly plausible application would be robotaxis that could reduce traffic on European roads. Aside from giving everyone an alternative to driving their own cars, these robotaxis are expected to strictly follow traffic rules.
By looking at the images, you would know why it was named Cube. Physically, it looks like a box on wheels. Designing it as such gives it plenty of interior space. In addition, the shape is quite perfect for narrow urban streets.
Though we have not seen interior photos of the Cube yet, we can say that the cabin will be cozier and more comfortable than standard taxis. Head of business development and marketing for surface materials at Continental's division ContiTech, Dr. Alexander Jockisch, said that future cars will not just be a mode of transportation. Instead, cars will focus on comfort, privacy, relaxation, communication, and work too - making it very functional. As most cars in the future will mostly be autonomous, humans will not be in it to drive anymore and will be doing other things instead. So car interiors will be completely different from what it is now.
Frank Jourdan, member of Continental’s executive board said that “the future of individual mobility in cities is autonomous and electric” and that it will become a part of the shared economy.
The Continental Cube relies on laser sensors and driver assistance systems. The company is looking for ways to make both work in harmony. With these robotaxis, there will be a lower demand for individual cars as it would be so easy to just hire one of the Cubes. These electric robo-taxis will also not emit any gas, keeping the air clean.
Today, Continental plans to test the Cube at its Frankfurt site. The site mocks the real environment with real life situations like traffic. This lets them evaluate the technology in actual conditions and gives them the confidence to make adjustments, while avoiding accidents that may occur if testing were done on actual streets. This September, you'll be able to see the Continental Cube as it makes its debut at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show.