ITS World Congress: Continental presents robot vehicles for the mobility of tomorrow

Robotics solutions facilitate the transport of goods in logistics and road traffic

In October, the world will be looking at Hamburg. That’s when the focus will be on the future of mobility at the ITS World Congress. From October 11th to 15th, this international industry platform will present innovative solutions for tomorrow’s intelligent transportation systems. Continental will also be there as an exhibitor. The company will be showcasing pioneering robotics technologies that can support humans in crucial areas of application. Three so-called AMR vehicles ­ Autonomous Mobile Robots ­ can be experienced as prototypes at the company’s booth: The Continental Corriere is a small delivery robot for transporting groceries or packages in urban areas. The Continental Contadino, in turn, is an agricultural robot that can sow, plant and fertilize autonomously. The third robot was developed for use in intralogistics, i.e. for support in production plants or logistics centers.

“Continental’s presence at the ITS Congress shows that intelligent mobility does not just mean transporting people from A to B,” explains Michael Hülsewies, Senior Vice President and Head of Architecture & Software at Continental. “Innovative mobility also means meeting the challenges of higher logistics volumes, implementing sustainable ideas for the transport and distribution of goods, and offering smart solutions that support resource-efficient food production in agriculture. For all these areas, robotics applications are an ideal complement to existing structures.”

Corriere – a delivery and transport robot for urban areas

The robotic vehicle most visible in tomorrow’s everyday mobility is the Continental Corriere. The delivery robot, which weighs just under 40 kilograms and is around 30 centimeters high, is already in trial run in Singapore. There, it transports food from a restaurant to Continental’s local site. This allows essential experience to be gathered for later use in series production. The vehicle is ideal for use in the so-called last mile: for transporting food, medicines or smaller packages to the end customer. A mobility solution like the Corriere can significantly ease the burden on inner-city traffic if people no longer have to get into their cars to buy a liter of milk, a lunch package or an order from the pharmacy.

The delivery robot moves completely autonomously and self-sufficiently through traffic. To do this, it is equipped with technologies that have already proven their worth in automobility. Lidar sensors and cameras, for example, which are already used in a similar form in systems for automated driving in passenger cars, plus self-learning software make the Corriere an intelligent participant in the cityscape. It recognizes pedestrians and their direction of travel, crosses traffic lights and adapts inconspicuously to the general flow of traffic. This makes the Corriere an ideal helper in the smart city life of tomorrow. At the ITS Congress, Continental will also be presenting a central fleet management system that can be used to intelligently operate a swarm of robot vehicles in large-scale operations.

Contadino – intelligent helper for sustainable agriculture

Continental is also developing a solution for outdoor use in agriculture. Although the Contadino is somewhat larger than the Corriere urban delivery robot, with a maximum weight of 100 kilograms it is still significantly lighter than conventional agricultural machines. The compact dimensions and, above all, the low weight – plus, for example, a seeding, planting or fertilizing module with a total weight of the Contadino of around 250 kilograms – allow the soil to be worked gently.

Soil compaction caused by heavy equipment is a problem in agriculture that can lead to declining soil quality and thus lower yields. The Contadino works autonomously in the fleet, serving as a sort of personal butler for each crop in the field. Thanks to an innovative satellite communication system (Real Time Kinematics Global Networking Satellite System) and networking with weather apps, for example, the autonomous robot can precisely target each plant to within three centimeters. In this way, with data on soil conditions and rainfall, each plant can be fertilized individually and yields increased in a resource-conserving manner. With the Contadino, Continental provides a robust, reliable robotics platform with open software and hardware interfaces for which third parties can also develop individual working modules.

AMR – an autonomously acting robot for logistics tasks in production

Continental’s autonomous intralogistics robot works more behind the scenes. Here it automates the flow of materials in production plants, warehouses or logistics centers. The robust vehicle is also equipped with proven technologies: lidar sensors for 360-degree detection of the environment, 3-D camera systems, intelligent software and an optional ultra-wideband transmitter for precise live tracking of the AMR in the fleet network make the robot vehicle a valuable employee. It independently executes transport orders, can avoid obstacles and calculate alternative routes. Here, too, an optional fleet management system can coordinate a larger fleet of AMRs. Continental initially designed the autonomously operating vehicle for its own benefit: Engineers at the technology company could not find a suitable solution on the market to make the material flow and handling of heavy product components at its own plants more efficient. “We developed a customized robotics solution that is now very successfully integrated into everyday production at Continental’s plants for hydraulic brake systems in Slovakia and in Changshu near Shanghai in China. This intralogistics solution will also be offered to external customers from next year when it is ready for series production,” says Pierre Pomper, head of the Autonomous Mobile Robots segment at Continental.

SOURCE: Continental

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