Electric U-Shift takes a modular approach to urban mobility
The German Aerospace Center has revealed a working prototype of a multi-use urban mobility and logistics vehicle called U-Shift, which is made up of an electric U-shaped base platform that's used to ferry around various pod modules.
Germany's national aeronautics and space research center, or Deutsches Zentrum für Luft und Raumfahrt (DLR) to use its proper moniker, currently sees the vehicle – which was presented at the Interim Conference of the Strategic Dialogue for the Automotive Sector in Stuttgart yesterday – serving as an autonomous shuttle service, a mobile sales vehicle and a cargo carrier for package distribution services, though other use scenarios will doubtless be developed.
At the moment, autonomous technology has not been cooked in though, and the U-Shift prototype is remote-controlled by human operators. The four-wheeled base platform is home to an electric drive system and batteries (and eventually the systems needed to support autonomy), as well as a lifting component for picking up the various pods. These modules currently include a seven-seat passenger capsule with a large doorway at one end and an integrated ramp for accessibility ease, and a cargo capsule with enough storage capacity for four Euro pallets.
As well as showing off the concept to potential buyers, DLR researchers will also use the prototype to get to grips with the system, iron out any problems that may arise and focus on any potential improvements ahead of a fully autonomous version coming in 2024, which will be able to trundle along at around 60 km/h (40 mph).
DLR is not alone in looking to a future where autonomous electric pods transport folks around cities and campuses or haul cargo around without human operators. And there are a number of other projects at more advanced stages of development, but this modular platform could prove a useful addition to the upcoming electric mobility landscape. There's a video showing the prototype in action via the source link below.