Launching a demonstrator at IAA Mobility in Munich this week, the two European heavyweights are working alongside Israel’s Mobileye, which is providing the SAE Level 4 autonomous driving systems. Measuring 5m long, 2.2m wide and 2.8m high, the nine-seater shuttles will weigh in at around 5000kg and be capable of carrying a 1000kg payload. According to the partners, on-street testing is likely to get underway in Germany in 2025.
“Self-driving shuttle vehicles will become integral elements of modern mobility ecosystems,” said Klaus Rosenfeld, CEO of Schaeffler AG. “They will bring people safely, quickly, and easily from A to B and increase accessibility to mobility for everyone living in cities and rural areas. We at Schaeffler want to support this development with best-in-class systems engineering, as well as innovative automotive technology in a sustainable manner.”
Schaeffler has developed a rolling chassis which combines a fully electric powertrain, steer-by-wire system, and battery in a modular solution. The Mobileye Drive platform designed for shuttle vehicles enables autonomous driving using purpose-built EyeQ processors, redundant sensor systems of surround cameras, and lidar or radar sensing, as well as mapping solutions.
“The full potential of autonomous mobility to transform our communities for the better can only be reached if the technologies are safe, accessible, and scalable,” said Johann Jungwirth, senior vice president, Autonomous Vehicles at Mobileye. “Working with Schaeffler and VDL Groep, we have the right strategy and teams to make mobility-as-a-service a reality in the very near future.”
Schaeffler and VDL intend to develop and build the shuttles in partnership with public transport operators. The companies have already started negotiations with operators to acquire pilot projects with the intention to prove the concept and to set up a scalable ecosystem. Volume targets are set to be ‘some thousands of vehicles per year’ starting in 2030, with production planned to take place at VDL’s Mobility Innovation Centre at Born, in the south Netherlands near the German border.