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Germany’s Aerospace Centre Has Unveiled a Concept Modular Electric Vehicle that Can Change from a Bus to a Cargo Van

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Germany's aerospace centre

Germany’s aerospace centre has unveiled a concept modular electric vehicle that can change from a bus to a cargo van.

Deutsches Zentrum für Luft und Raumfahrt (DLR), the Germany’s Aerospace Centre, has unveiled the U-Shift, a concept electric vehicle that uses “capsule” add-ons to turn the four-wheeler into different vehicles, like a bus or cargo delivery unit.

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Germany's aerospace centre

A prototype version that’s the size of a “large van” was unveiled at a conference earlier this month in Baden-Württemberg, Germany.

The prototype is currently remote-controlled, but its maker plans on making the vehicle autonomous in the future.

Deutsches Zentrum für Luft und Raumfahrt (DLR), the German Aerospace Centre, has unveiled the U-Shift , a concept vehicle with multiple applications, including cargo and human transport.
The flexibility of the vehicle is achieved by creating a modular “drive board” with several multi-use “capsule” add-ons. These individual capsules have distinct designs and purposes, allowing the U-Shift to transform into different vehicles for different uses and industries.

Germany's aerospace centre

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A prototype of the concept U-Shift was presented at the Interim Conference of the Strategic Dialogue for the Automotive Sector in Germany this month, and the project has received a little over $US14 million in funding from the Baden-Württemberg Ministry for Economic Affairs, Labour and Housing.

“Entirely new products and business models can emerge from futuristic innovations such as the U-Shift vehicle concept,” Baden-Württemberg’s minister for economic affairs Nicole Hoffmeister-Kraut said in a statement .
The idea of having a “drive board” or powertrain platform that can be used with different body attachments is not a novel concept.

Germany's aerospace centre

Big automakers like Mercedes-Benz and its parent company Daimler , Volkswagen , and General Motors – as well as smaller companies like Karma Automotive – all have a stake in the multi-use shared electric vehicle platform development space.

But unlike other automakers, DLR’s concept platform has a uniquely U-shaped drive board that was designed to be both electric and autonomous with the ability to operate at any time during the day.

Its current prototype version, while not yet autonomous, is controllable by remote.

The current prototype is similar in size to a large van, according to its maker.

The passenger capsule has eight seats, including one folding seat, and the door is equipped with a ramp for increased accessibility.

Germany's aerospace centre

Meanwhile, the cargo capsule has enough room to accommodate four Euro pallets, which are 2.62 feet long, 3.94 feet wide, and 0.47 feet tall, according to EPAL .
Besides the cargo and shuttle bus iterations, DLR says the vehicle could also be used as an “on-call bus” or sales vehicle.

Although the U-Shift is still in prototype mode, its maker is now in talks with manufacturers, operators, and local citizens. Moving forward, the conversations held with the latter group will help shape the U-Shift’s design and functions.

Looking forward, the designers will be working to test new batteries, improve the drivetrain’s performance, and install the necessary features needed for autonomous driving, according to DLR.

DLR is also trying to design a system that will lift and drop off the capsules.

A different automated prototype will be released in 2024.
The upcoming prototype will be able to hit up to 37.28 miles-per-hour.

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Germany's aerospace centre
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