DLR’s Hybrid Autonomous Concept Car Looks Promising

The concepts revealed hint at what the future of mid and long range transport might look like in the not-so-distant future. One that is completely driverless and sustainable.

DLR concept vehicles lined up
Futurism in real time © Credit to DLR

German aerospace brand Deutsches Zentrum für Luft und Raumfahrt (DLR), might be known mostly for its aviation technology, but the brand is reinventing the wheel with its large-scale project, a project called the ‘Next Generation Car’ (NGC).

The project itself focuses on three main concepts:

  • Urban Modular Vehicle (UMV)
  • Safe Light Regional Vehicle (SLRV)
  • IUV

The final vehicle in that list has a lot of promise. As a mid to long range vehicle, it can travel up to 1,000km (621 miles), and can accelerate at 180kph (118.8mph). Power is drawn between a 48kWh battery and a full cell with an output of 45kW, and a 700-bar hydrogen pressure tank.

A clever combination of different lightweight construction methods keep the tare weight of the IUV below 1600 kilograms, which includes the energy storage systems, while following rigorous safety standards.

“This project involved us constructing a body demonstrator for use on the test stand. The demonstrator gives a first impression of how the vehicle may look in practice. It also facilitated the development of key components and technologies and enabled their measurement and investigation on the test stand,” says project manager Sebastian Vohrer from the DLR Institute of Vehicle Concepts in Stuttgart.

“It reveals where there is room for improvement, and what can be achieved going forward with partners from industry and research.”

Keeping power consumption low and the range high depends comes down to the lightweight structure of the vehicle. According to Vohrer “the IUV body structure weighs just 250 kilograms, about a quarter below what is otherwise common in this vehicle segment.”

The body of the vehicle itself consists of fibre-reinforced polymers. There are other areas of the build that are made of aluminium or sandwich materials too, areas that need to exhibit high rigidity and absorb considerable energy in the event of a crash.

DLR researchers working on this vehicle have spent a lot of time investigating how autonomous driving would affect the vehicle concept and architecture. To do this, they approached the vehicle as having Level 4 automation, where drivers can take over if need be.

In terms of shape, the revealed vehicles run five metres long and two metres across, and can accommodate up to five people.

Passengers in the vehicle can sit with their backs to the direction of travel in autonomous mode. What’s more, the way that the air conditioning is set up within, drivers can adjust the air conditioning individually via overhead interfaces.

Right now, this vehicle is simply a concept, but it looks incredibly promising. Is autonomous driving the future of transport, or are you of a different mindset? Let us know down in the comments below.

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