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2021 Annual Report

Progress Arises from Change.

2021 Annual Report

 

Research and Development

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Mobility of the future is sustainable, automated and connected.

In the future, vehicles will have a variety of powerful senses. They will speak the same language and communicate with their environment and the driver. They will be highly responsive and seamlessly interconnected, and a central intelligence system will steer them reliably and safely to their destination in all situations.

Driving Planner for highly automated driving

Continental is developing a software solution that allows vehicles to independently perform complex driving maneuvers. The Driving Planner demonstrates that automated driving is not reserved exclusively for premium vehicles with special equipment. The software determines precise decision-making alternatives from a wide range of sensor data in order to automatically master complex driving maneuvers on the highway or expressway. The Driving Planner can thereby calculate traffic situations several seconds in advance and use this information to derive the vehicle’s appropriate response.

One example illustrating where this new system can relieve drivers in the future is when entering highways via a merging acceleration lane. The Driving Planner calculates this complex maneuver from radar sensor and camera data and makes the best decision. Other software modules then carry out the calculated driving maneuver. The vehicle accelerates, merges onto the highway and then picks up speed according to the flow of traffic.

The Driving Planner can calculate driving maneuvers up to a speed of 130 km/h. The development phase of the software system has been completed, and the technology is expected to be launched in 2024.

ShyTech displays – essential information at a glance or touch

ShyTech displays are an innovative and intelligent solution from Continental that help drivers keep an eye on important information at all times. As modern vehicles become more and more connected and automated, the amount of data they process and display continues to grow. In order to visualize this wealth of information, increasingly large screens are being installed in cars. However, not all messages are relevant in all situations, and excessive notifications can cause distraction and endanger driving safety. ShyTech displays increase user-friendliness and enhance safety by hiding potential distractions.

If required, they can take up the entire width of the dashboard, but they will only become visible when needed. This is made possible by a semi-transparent surface that allows the screens to be seamlessly integrated into the surrounding panel – both visually and haptically. When the displays are not needed, they are practically invisible to the human eye. Navigation and communication information and the touch screen menu are therefore readily available at all times, but the dashboard appears as if it is a single component. The indicators and controls are only activated when a hand, for example, draws near the display. It is also possible to activate the display via voice control or by briefly tapping the screen surface. The display surface is designed to imitate the look of the dashboard. This appearance can take many forms depending on the configuration; examples include wooden panels, carbon panels or leather-covered surfaces. In addition, it not only looks like the original material, but feels like it too. ShyTech innovations allow screens to be placed virtually anywhere in the vehicle interior. Continental plans to launch the ShyTech display in 2023.

Research and development expenses (net)
  2021 2020
  € millions % of sales € millions % of sales
Autonomous Mobility and Safety 1,082.3 14.4 1,005.0 13.3
Vehicle Networking and Information 1,054.3 13.2 1,274.8 16.1
Tires 293.8 2.5 268.0 2.6
ContiTech 156.5 2.6 149.7 2.7
Contract Manufacturing -0.1 0.0 3.2 0.3
Continental Group 2,586.8 7.7 2,700.7 8.5
 
Capitalization of research and development expenses 31.5 137.6
in % of research and development expenses 1.2 4.8
Depreciation on research and development expenses 44.0 164.6
Download table overview (MS-Excel)

Conti GreenConcept – sustainable, lightweight, efficient

The Conti GreenConcept from Continental leverages both current and emerging technological approaches to the engineering of sustainable tires for passenger cars. The new concept tire is based on three levels: a particularly high proportion of traceable, renewable and recycled materials, a resource-saving, lightweight design and an extended service life thanks to a renewable tread.

More than 50% of the materials used to make the Conti GreenConcept are renewable or recycled. In other words, they originate from closed-loop cycles, have no harmful effects on people or the environment, are responsibly sourced, and are carbon-neutral throughout the supply chain. The proportion of renewable raw materials amounts to 35%. The organic materials used include natural rubber from dandelions (Taraxagum), silicate from the ashes of rice husks, as well as vegetable oils and resins.

In addition, the Conti GreenConcept is made from 17% recycled materials. The materials Continental uses in the tire’s casing include reclaimed steel and recovered carbon black, plus – in an industry first – polyester from recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles. Continental is planning the gradual rollout of its ContiRe.Tex technology from 2022, thus paving the way for the manufacture of tires using polyester yarn from recycled PET bottles. The recycling process does without the usual intermediate chemical processing steps, and the resulting polyester yarn is then made functionally capable of handling the high mechanical forces to which tires are subjected. As part of the so-called upcycling process, used PET bottles get a new life as high-performance polyester material. Conventional passenger car tires consist of roughly 400 grams of polyester yarn each. In manufacturing a set of four tires, a total of over 60 recycled PET bottles can be reused.

Thanks to its lightweight design, the Conti GreenConcept is also up to 40% lighter than today’s standard tires. At the same time, the tire’s rolling resistance has been reduced. This means the vehicle consumes less energy, thus leading to a positive effect on the environment. Internal combustion vehicles therefore have a greater mileage and lower carbon emissions, while electric vehicles can cover an extended range.

AMBIENC3 – the vehicle interior of the future

In its new AMBIENC3 concept vehicle – a converted VW microvan – Continental shows how driving, working and relaxing can be combined in a single space. “Third space” is the term used to describe the underlying concept, which brings together living and working areas within the vehicle.

The AMBIENC3 features new surface solutions for the floor and ceiling, walls, seats, recliners, storage areas and the instrument panel, all of which are made from innovative and sustainable materials. These are either natural and renewable, or recycled and reclaimed. Good air quality inside the vehicle is ensured through low-emission, low-pollutant materials, while the lightweight surfaces also help to reduce vehicle weight. This lowers energy consumption and therefore CO2 emissions, and increases the range of electric vehicles.

The cockpit does not contain any buttons or switches. Instead, thanks to shy technology, the functions are always intuitively at hand but not permanently displayed. Many of the functions integrated into the surface are invisible at first glance when in “off” mode.

Further highlights in the concept vehicle include a light and sound concept that creates different moods, and heatable materials. Made using functional printing methods, these can generate heat in seconds. Other surfaces in the AMBIENC3 are distinguished by special attributes such as optimized dirt resistance, maximum abrasion resistance and even self-repair in the event of damage.

By the time fully automated driving has arrived – if not before – the time spent in cars will be used for other activities besides steering, accelerating and braking. Alongside the driving zone, the new concept vehicle therefore also offers working and relaxing areas, each with their own design and materials. As more attention is focused on the vehicle interior, the surfaces employed here will become ever more important, calling for a holistic spatial concept.

With solutions and surfaces that can be customized using digital printing techniques, automotive manufacturers will have numerous options when it comes to tailoring vehicles to their customers’ individual requirements.

R&D expenses (net) € millions / R&D ratio %

R&D expenses (net) € millions
R&D ratio %