Whether a mobile cinema, a mobile meeting room or a courier vehicle for Mom’s birthday present, a fun mode of transport for party-goers or a packhorse that can take a heavy load – BEE, Continental’s industrious worker bee for the urban mobility of tomorrow, is all this and much more. In a virtual-reality presentation at the technology company’s booth at the IAA (hall 5.1, A08), customers can experience just how safe, clean, intelligently connected and affordable the mobility of the future could look. BEE fits in perfectly with Continental’s IAA slogan “Making Mobility a Great Place to Live.”
© Continental AG
BEE (short for “Balanced Economy and Ecology mobility concept”) is one of Continental’s comprehensive visionary solutions for individual mobility in the urban environment. The BEE is designed as a vehicle for one or two people. It is electrically powered and buzzes around at speeds of up to 60 km/h. It can easily cover a distance of more than 350 kilometers every day. Without fuss and within a matter of minutes, it travels to your location when you summon it with your smartphone. It is designed to ensure tailored, stress-free and comfortable travel in the city of the future.
BEE is intended to be a part of a swarm of autonomous electric vehicles
Continental’s plan is to see thousands of BEE vehicles forming a swarm of autonomous, electrically operated vehicles in different sizes and with different features. After all, BEE is designed to be a form of public transport that really is for everyone. It adapts to its passengers, both young and old, and with or without physical disabilities. Anyone can summon the right BEE to wherever they are. BEE transports everyone, changing to suit their individual needs.
“For us, the mobility of the future is not just a slogan, but a core business area. As with all new technical developments, we always keep sight of the big picture while offering detailed solutions at the same time. People in smart cities and in their living spaces of tomorrow want safe, clean, intelligent and convenient mobility. Mobility that is sustainable, individual and affordable for all is therefore a fundamental element of our corporate strategy,” says Dr. Elmar Degenhart, Chairman of the Executive Board of Continental AG, adding: “We are convinced that autonomous driving will be crucial in shaping mobility in the future. Driverless vehicles will form the backbone of the transport of people and goods in the ever-expanding metropolitan regions of the future. Robot vehicles such as our BEE vehicle should be affordable, enabling mobility for all. This represents a major challenge, but also a great opportunity for us because we are growing primarily in the fields of components, systems and functions. In the future, we also want to become significantly stronger in the area of mobility services and be generating around one billion euros through this business by 2020.”
© Continental AG
Two thirds of people worldwide will live in cities by 2050
According to a UNO study, in 2050 more than two thirds of people will live in urban areas. But people will still have high individual mobility requirements. At the same time, the vehicles that will be moving around our cities in the future need to be free from emissions and contribute to making the most of the capacity available on the roads. Continental’s answers to this are BEE and CUbE.
CUbE stands for Continental Urban mobility Experience. While BEE is still currently only virtual, the CUbE vehicles are already undergoing trial operations on Continental’s Frankfurt campus, which offers a city-like infrastructure with street signs, cross traffic, pedestrian crossings and curbs and, as such, provides an environment that is as realistic as possible. The technology used in the vehicle is based on tried-and-tested Continental components from advanced driver assistance systems already installed in production vehicles. These are supplemented by the latest Continental technologies such as laser sensors.
CUbE and BEE are the fruits of our employee’s creativity
“When developing CUbE and BEE, we made use of the enormous potential of our employees’ experience and creativity. Colleagues worldwide understand the challenges and needs of people in urban areas. They know how they themselves want to be mobile in the future. They have ideas about the form that unconventional and original solutions could take in terms of meeting upcoming transport and mobility requirements. BEE and CUbE are great examples of this,” stresses Kurt Lehmann, Corporate Technology Officer at Continental, who is responsible for corporation-wide technology development at Continental.
© Continental AG
Continental brings with it a vast range of technical expertise, making it the ideal partner for the mobility of tomorrow. For example, ContiTech engineers contributed ideas to the BEE concept – from innovative air springs to transparent interior materials offering that all-important ride quality and comfort. Interior experts have invested a great deal of time and energy in designing secure connectivity solutions and user-friendly machine interfaces. The Powertrain engineers are developing the drive and charging technology. Chassis & Safety developers are working on autonomous driving systems, while our tire specialists are developing intelligent tires for the BEE that contain a proportion of dandelion rubber (“Taraxagum”).
In view of all of these ideas, it is no wonder that Continental’s worker bee of the future exhibits some astounding features: For example, it can turn its front wheels individually, allowing the BEE to turn in the tightest of spaces. The window panes can function as information screens both on the inside and outside – and can just as easily be turned into fully transparent windows that you can look out through.
BEE becomes the star of a virtual reality video on the urban living environment of the future
To allow people today to gain an insight into the mobility of tomorrow, Continental has embedded BEE in a futuristic virtual urban living environment. The virtual reality video demonstrates, for example, how BEE can open its front door wide and also lower itself far enough that wheelchair users can get on board independently and without hindrance. For older passengers, BEE moves the seat practically in front of the door for them to sit down.
Another scene shows how BEE transforms into an interactive vehicle for transporting young people to parties and plays the right music for the mood with a full-bodied sound and without any loudspeakers: “Lilly, your profile is loaded,” says BEE, informing its passenger when she steps in. BEE has brought along a birthday present from Lilly’s mom, who lives on another continent. She bought the present online and provided the right delivery date at the same time.
A swarm of other BEEs buzz toward the vehicle; the side doors are opened wide to reveal Lilly’s friends. Together, the digitally-connected BEE convoy makes its way to the party with its guests onboard. The windows, which have turned into 3D screens, allow them to forget that the friends are traveling in different BEEs while they chat.
While Lilly celebrates with her friends, some of the hard-working BEEs turn into modern goods trolleys to supply the restaurants in the city with individual deliveries of fresh fruit and vegetables, replenishments of drinks and also with one or two bouquets for their evening guests.
A lot is still to be done to develop and build an intelligent urban infrastructure
“This type of future mobility is largely already within our reach: With BEE, we are showcasing a highly realistic mobility concept whose technologies are already ready for production or in very advanced stages of development. But at the same time, we will not be seeing BEE on our roads in this decade because laying the foundations for future mobility is fundamentally linked to the development of smart cities and nations. The appropriate infrastructure is needed, both digitally and in the design of traffic routes. It requires the right legal framework. In this respect, we all still have a lot to do – and we are looking forward to the challenge,” underlines Lehmann.