Automating, digitalizing, connecting: for safe, sustainable, convenient and comfortable mobility.
As part of our new organizational structure, the Holistic Engineering and Technologies – or he[a]t – area was set up for research and development within Automotive Technologies in January 2020. The unit is responsible for central development activities in the Autonomous Mobility and Safety (AMS) and Vehicle Networking and Information (VNI) business areas. he[a]t will focus on future-oriented topics such as artificial intelligence, central architectures, software and high-performance computer (HPC) platforms, and will ensure global engineering as part of a network. Basic standards will be defined, coordinated and developed centrally so that they can be adapted to customers’ needs efficiently and as quickly as possible on a decentralized basis. he[a]t will strengthen our cross-organizational collaboration, shorten innovation cycles and further enhance the flexibility of our innovation processes. In the Rubber Technologies group sector, the organization of R&D will remain varied, with a mostly centralized structure in the Tires business area due to the high similarity of tire requirements worldwide and a largely decentralized structure in the ContiTech business area by virtue of the different product segments. In the Powertrain Technologies group sector, R&D is consolidated into the Technology and Innovation central function.
Communication in real time
Connected vehicles serve as a basis for real-time traffic reports, road hazard information and future driver assistance features due to their ability to communicate with other vehicles or infrastructure directly. In this way, they ensure greater driving safety and efficiency as well as reduced fuel consumption.
One of Continental’s focal points for development in the year under review was the flexible 5G hybrid platform for V2X communication. V2X (vehicle to everything) describes the communication between a vehicle and, for example, other vehicles, traffic infrastructure, people and networks. What makes the platform special is that it facilitates both communication over mobile networks and fast and reliable direct data exchange.
Unlike with communication over mobile networks, the technology used to establish direct V2X communication differs worldwide. With Continental’s new hybrid V2X solution, the same hardware and software platform can be used to support either communication standard, reducing not only costs but also complexity for the global application of V2X communication. This enables vehicle manufacturers to overcome the challenges involved when deploying V2X on a global scale.
To test driverless mobility, we are transforming ordinary traffic intersections into highly intelligent test fields equipped with smart sensor technology. Traffic lights and streetlights fitted with sensors exchange data with vehicles in the vicinity to protect pedestrians and cyclists in particular. This technology can, for instance, warn a driver of obscured pedestrians or cyclists when turning. Traffic data from streetlights can also help to reduce emissions, with signal changes at traffic lights being controlled in such a way as to optimize traffic flow and minimize stationary time at intersections.
Server replaces control units
In the future, high-performance servers will take on the processing power of up to 100 of the control units seen in current cars. The high-performance computer (HPC) that we developed enables a high degree of vehicle connectivity and can be used, for example, to install new functions as well as safety updates in the vehicle via a wireless connection. Vehicles will thus be kept up to date more easily and more quickly than they are today. The HPC is to go into production in Volkswagen’s ID. electric models.
|Research and development expenses (net)|
|€ millions||% of sales||€ millions||% of sales|
|Chassis & Safety||1,048.7||11.2||1,023.2||10.7|
|Capitalization of research and development expenses||232.4||158.0|
|in % of research and development expenses||6.5||4.7|
|Depreciation on research and development expenses||120.4||90.0|
With the development platform CUbE (Continental Urban Mobility Experience), we are researching and testing the driverless transportation of people and goods and the enhanced interconnectivity of all road users. CUbE is equipped with a number of Continental products and systems, including sensors, brakes, electronic control units, driver assistance systems, surface materials and tires. Our autonomous driving technologies used in CUbE are already being deployed in the U.S.A., Japan, China, Singapore and Germany, with a number of pilot projects being carried out on predetermined public routes, university and exhibition grounds, as well as at our locations. Autonomous shuttle buses and driverless taxis will be a key addition to public transport in the future.
Digital tire management
In-tire sensors deliver information that helps ensure greater safety and fuel efficiency. Conti C.A.R.E. (Connected. Autonomous. Reliable. Electrified.) is the name of our solution that combines wheel and tire technology. Conti C.A.R.E. tires feature sensors that are built into the structure of the tire. The sensors generate and continuously evaluate data on tread depth, possible damage, tire temperature and tire pressure. The data is transmitted to ContiConnect, our online digital platform for passenger cars and commercial vehicles, and then analyzed. If the data deviates from the norm, the fleet manager is automatically informed by e-mail or SMS. Conti C.A.R.E. helps reduce CO2 emissions, improve tire life and prevent breakdowns. The application is continuously being developed to make driving even safer, easier and more economical. ContiConnect has been awarded the 2020 European Transport Prize for Sustainability (Europäische Transportpreis für Nachhaltigkeit 2020) by German magazine Transport.
High performance despite low voltage
Up to now, a full-hybrid vehicle with 48-volt technology was thought to be impossible. For a hybrid vehicle to drive using just electricity, the electric part of the drive system normally requires voltages of up to 800 volts. Now, however, we have developed a 48-volt hybrid system that boasts features similar to those of a high-voltage electric drive system, namely 48-volt high-power technology. The key component here is a new, highly efficient water-cooled electric motor, the peak output of which has been doubled to 30 kW in comparison with that used previously. All-electric driving is therefore possible at speeds of up to 80 to 90 km/h.
The new system, comprising an electric motor complete with integrated power electronics and a battery, reduces fuel consumption and thereby also CO2 emissions by around 20% compared with similar vehicles fitted with combustion engines. At the same time, the new 48-volt technology is also considerably cheaper than the high-voltage systems used up to now.
Center for functional printing technologies
At the Freiburg location, we are setting up a technical center in order to develop and bring to market functional printing such as printed electronics together with collaboration partners from science and industry. The opportunities for cost-efficient, fast and sustainable production of intelligent surfaces are wide-ranging and serve as a basis for Industry 4.0. Printed electronics include electronic applications manufactured through printing processes. Instead of common printing inks, this process prints electrically conductive inks on surfaces, and these then act as conducting paths and components. Today, this method is already used to manufacture sensors and solar cells, for example. The result is further business potential in the packaging industry. Functional and personalized packaging will be a key element used to support sales in the future.
Eco-friendly adhesion system for textile reinforcing materials
Continental and Kordsa have developed COKOON™, an ecofriendly adhesive system for bonding textile reinforcing materials with rubber compounds, which are used, for example, in the tire industry as well as in the production of mechanical rubber goods such as hoses and conveyor belts. The new technology enables the bonding activation of textile reinforcing materials without the use of resorcinol and formaldehyde, two chemicals that are classified as harmful to health. The first production tires using this technology are already on the market. The two partners aim to establish COKOON™ as a new standard for adhesive systems, thus replacing those currently in use. For this purpose, an open-source licensing solution has been developed and made available to interested companies for examination. Continental and Kordsa waive any claims to developer or licensing fees. In return, participating companies undertake to make their patents available to other partners free of charge for the further development of the technology.