German auto industry supplier Continental has developed the CUbE concept, a driverless taxi demonstration vehicle that it says could help alleviate traffic congestion in busy city centres.
As its name (which is shorthand for Continental Urban moBility Experience) suggests, the CUbE is a box on wheels that looks a bit like a tiny subway or light rail carriage that can carry a handful of people.
Continental says its idea is to create an autonomous vehicle whose control systems were based on the active safety systems and sensors that are already being used in production cars. The company will soon begin testing CUbE at its Frankfurt proving grounds, which contains a miniature city’s worth of infrastructure, including street signs, cross traffic, pedestrian crossings and curbs, creating a set of complex conditions the company says is ideal for testing driverless vehicles.
But Continental is looking beyond the road safety aspects of driverless cars, as it contends the trend toward autonomous vehicles will have “significant impacts on vehicle interiors.”
Without the need for a steering wheel and functional instrument panel, Continental says the focus will shift toward “privacy, relaxation, communication and work,” giving designers more freedom to create a “feel-good cocoon” with a wide variety of colour designs and lighting using translucent surfaces.
Continental will display its CUbE concept at this fall’s Frankfurt Motor Show, which runs September 16-24.
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