Taxis much like the autonomous Johnny Cab from Total Recall may be a reality in just a few years because companies like Uber and Google are working on the tech. Continental's new Cube concept makes it the latest firm to experiment with how a robo-taxi could reduce traffic congestion in European cities.
Cube is a fitting name for this vehicle, and Continental makes the concept a box on wheels to maximize interior room. It's a very utilitarian shape and should fit well in urban areas.
The company doesn't provide any images of the cabin, but Continental believes that autonomous vehicle interiors require a larger emphasis on coziness and comfort than a traditional model.
"Cars will be much more than just a means of transport in the future," Dr. Alexander Jockisch, head of business development and marketing for surface materials at Continental's division ContiTech, said. "The focus will shift more toward privacy, relaxation, communication, and work. The purpose of the interior will therefore be different in the future. People in the car will be doing things other than driving it."
The tech underneath this cubic body uses Continental's experimental laser sensors and driver assistance systems from existing vehicles. The company plans to work out ways to make these aids work together more effectively.
Continental sees the Cube as a way to lighten the current immense load that vehicles place on a city's infrastructure. Rather than owning a vehicle, someone could simply hail one of these whenever a trip is necessary. Electric robo-taxis would also improve air quality.
Continental intends to test the Cube at its site in Frankfurt. The place simulates a real-world city, including traffic, which lets the firm evaluate the tech in realistic conditions without any actual danger. The company will display the concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, too.