DLR U-SHIFT: A MODULAR VEHICLE CONCEPT FOR TOMORROW
DLR U-Shift is a project developed in cooperation with studiokurbos , German Aerospace Centre DLR (Deutsches Zentrum fuer Luft- und Raumfahrt e. V.) and modelling partners.
studiokurbos is giving insights into new urban mobility and logistics with its futuristic vehicle concept “U-Shift”. The vehicle has a wide range of applications being an all-rounder in vehicle technology. Potential applications range from a shuttle on demand, a high-tech bus, or a versatile distribution center for goods, parcels, etc. The first operable prototype was presented at the Interim Conference of the Strategic Dialogue for the Automotive Sector in Baden-Wuerttemberg on September 17th, 2020 in Stuttgart. The Baden-Wuerttemberg Ministry of Economics, Labour and Housing contributed around 12 million euros to the project. Nicole Hoffmeister-Kraut, Baden-Wuerttemberg’s Minister of Economic Affairs, said it is all about making tomorrow’s transport more sustainable, easier, and more effective.
The autonomous, driverless, electric vehicle concept »U-Shift« enables a new type of modularity by separating the driving module and the transport capsule. Hence, it also provides a new level of intermodality, new products, and business models. The driving module can be used in combination with different types of capsules to transport both people and goods. Application examples are autonomous, electrified night delivery, autonomous intra-logistics, and barrier-free passenger transport.
Autonomous, flexible, standardizable
The autonomous and electric drive module integrates all components and systems necessary for driving. In addition to the electrical drive, battery, and automation components, the driveboard has an integrated lifting system for the simple and fast replacement of different types of capsules.
The capsules are changed “on-the-road”, i.e. during operation, to enable new traffic and mobility services. Due to the low-noise night operation and the high degree of utilization, the drive module is non-stop operational.
U-Shift roughly comprises the dimensions of a spacious van. The passenger capsule is equipped with seven seats and an additional foldable one. Barrier-free entry is provided by a large door with an integrated ramp. The cargo capsule was designed to hold four Euro pallets or eight roller containers.
Researchers hope to gain initial experience with the capsule collection and deposit system by utilizing the prototype and are currently in dialogue with potential manufacturers and operators. At the same time, a detailed discussion with private individuals is in progress to determine their needs and requirements for the use of U-Shift as well as the future possibilities associated with it. For example, human-vehicle interactions need to be evaluated, including the door opening mechanism, information flow, and any access restrictions. The next major step is to improve the powertrain performance, install hardware and sensors for autonomous and connected driving, test a new battery system, and further development of the chassis and lifting mechanism.
The capsules are only equipped with the most necessary technical equipment while the construction is light and cost-efficient and therefore easy to implement in any form. The use of U-Shift ranges from passenger transport (people mover, private capsule) to commercial transport (delivery transport, service, recyclable capsule).
Next generation of automation
Automation is much more closely linked to the infrastructure than current Cooperative Automated Driving (CAD) approaches. U-Shift takes automation to the next level – Managed Automated Driving (MAD) is a key element of this:
– Protection via infrastructure sensors
– Management via the traffic control center
– Optimized use of road infrastructure
German Design Award ’22 : Jury statement
“studiokurbos has developed a visionary autonomous vehicle concept in the form of »U-Shift«. Thanks to the separation of the electrical drive module and transport unit, it is capable of highly flexible deployment. Hence, the drive module can be used for driverless transport of people and goods in combination with various capsule types, which are fast and easy to switch, for example, for electro-mobile night deliveries, autonomous intra-logistics, or barrier-free transports.
“The futuristic style language and aesthetics are also highly successful. These clearly reflect both the modular character as well as expressing the state-of-the-art technological character and progressiveness. A highly intelligent and holistically conceived solution for sustainable mobility and simultaneously a fascinating option for new business models and new products.” The jury, German Design Council
studiokurbos is an owner-managed and independent design studio based in Stuttgart and Shanghai. As an interdisciplinary design partner, they design mobility, products, and user experiences for brands and markets all over the world.
Automotive design – In the field of automotive design, studiokurbos designs smart mobility of the future with all its attributes from ‘autonomous’ to ‘connected’ to ‘shared’. studiokurbos develops both interiors and exteriors that highlight the specific characteristics of their respective clients and thus strengthen the market position of their products.
Product design – Understanding, interaction, usability, and user experience are integral parts of any product design. Considering the lasting value and emotional connotation we create a symbiosis between aesthetic form design and user-friendly function.
User experience design – The user experience design team at studiokurbos develops forward-looking interaction and operating concepts. These combine real and virtual worlds to create fascinating spatial experiences and user symbioses for products and automobiles.
Just recently, studiokurbos received the “Team of the Year 2021” award presented by the ABC Award.