Since the introduction of ChatGPT, artificial intelligence (AI) has been a hot topic. But the true power of AI is not limited to texts and photos alone. It is shaping the future of mobility – a future that Continental has already embraced.
As if by magic, the fleet of tireless helpers makes its rounds on the field – in sunshine, in rain and even on holidays. For many farms around the world, the Contadino has become indispensable to operations. Developed by Continental in 2019 and presented to the global public at the Agritechnica trade fair in Hanover, Germany, the small agricultural robot makes day-to-day work easier for farmers. After all, tilling the fields is a time-consuming job – for which there are fewer and fewer skilled workers in Germany and elsewhere.
The Contadino offers a solution to the ongoing structural transformation and the associated shortage of skilled workers, requiring no direct intervention by the user and giving farmers more flexibility when working the field. Its cloud connection to the fleet also enables mobile monitoring and provides a constant overview, while data access and analysis can be used to optimize processes.
Swarm technology taking over farmwork
The agricultural robots can work independently or as part of a fleet, the size of which can be configured as required. Transport to the field is carried out by trailer, which also serves as a loading and refilling station for seed or fertilizer.
The swarm technology guarantees an efficient, smooth, downtime-free workflow, with efficient electric motors and automatic recharging enabling round-the-clock operation. Thanks to the targeted use of pesticides, fertilizers and seeds, the Contadino also goes hand-in-hand with the resource-friendly agriculture of the future.
GPS positioning accurate to within three centimeters
The Contadino may not think like an experienced farmer, but it is very attentive thanks to smart technology – making it an ideal industry example of the benefits of artificial intelligence.
This is made possible by Continental’s many years of experience in autonomous driving and sensor technology. The robot is equipped with lidar, radar, real-time GPS data transmission (“RTK”), camera and ultrasound. The little field worker therefore “knows” where it is at all times and can be positioned to within three centimeters by its users via remote control.
Curry via Corriere
Meanwhile, in the densely populated downtown area of Singapore, the pace of work is high, and by lunchtime the many domestic and foreign professionals there have worked up a large appetite. But heading outside to a local restaurant, especially in a business suit at sultry, sauna-like temperatures, can be risky. Continental has successfully tested a smart helper for this famous “last mile”: the Corriere robot vehicle. The delivery robot, which weighs just under 40 kilograms and is around 30 centimeters high, is ideal for smaller operations such as transporting groceries, medicines or smaller packages to the end customer. Or, as in Singapore, delicious curries or rice dishes from restaurants to the local Continental site.
A mobility solution like the Corriere can significantly relieve inner-city traffic if people no longer have to get into their cars to buy a liter of milk, deliver a packed lunch or pick up an order at the pharmacy. Equipped with modern technology, the Corriere, which is fed with data in advance, navigates its way through the inner-city hustle and bustle and delivers its goods safely and on time.
A new, billion-dollar market
The Contadino and Corriere are just two examples of the many practical uses and benefits of artificial intelligence for the mobility of tomorrow. While the world is currently impressed by the capabilities of AI in the creation of photos or texts, the real leaps in development are taking place more covertly in industry.
Artificial intelligence has become a key technology for the automotive sector in particular – and has what it takes to truly revolutionize transport in the long term. The automotive AI market is estimated at $2.3 billion and is expected to reach $16.2 billion by 2026. Continental recognized AI early on as a driving factor for its future business – and relies on the power of smart helpers in its products and processes in a way that is both consistent and responsible.
Automated driving without AI? Unthinkable!
The key factor behind AI growth in the automotive sector is automated and autonomous driving, which needs the technology to reliably detect objects in the vicinity of a car or truck in real time combination with vehicle sensors. AI-based driver assistance systems can maneuver vehicles safely even in the densest urban traffic and help avoid accidents. When connected to other vehicles and infrastructure, AI applications reduce congestion and are key solutions for the mobility of the coming years.
Detecting objects over hundreds of meters
Continental is already looking to the future in a practical sense. At the end of 2022, it joined forces with US tech company AEye to develop the high-performance LiDAR HRL131, the automotive industry’s first software-defined long-range LiDAR that can see farther and react to objects faster than before. It can detect vehicles more than 300 meters away and pedestrians more than 200 meters away. Its ability to detect small obstacles the size of bricks at high speeds and from great distances, even in adverse weather, is crucial for the further development of high-speed as well as highway autopilots and autonomous freight transport. Production is planned for the end of 2024.
Artificial intelligence is vital for the future of mobility. Today, it already plays a key role in Continental’s products and processes. Below is an overview of AI solutions developed by Continental.
At Continental’s Solution Center in Lousado, Portugal, employees have successfully investigated ways of using AI in final inspections of tires. This allows artificial intelligence to detect small deviations that are often extremely difficult to see with the human eye. The data gathered also provides a valuable point of reference for the continuous optimization of tire production processes. The technology is now set to be incorporated at other Continental tire plants. More information
At the end of 2022, Continental and AEye further opened the door to autonomous driving by developing the high-performance HRL131, the automotive industry’s first software-defined long-range LiDAR system that can detect objects at greater distances and respond quicker than ever before. Vehicles can be detected at a distance of over 300 meters and pedestrians at a distance of over 200 meters. Its ability to detect small obstacles, such as bricks, at high speeds from great distances and in adverse weather is critical for advancing high-speed, highway autopilot and hub-to-hub autonomous trucking. Testing and validation of the production prototypes will take place in 2023, with production planned for the end of 2024. More information
A highlight at the leading IAA TRANSPORTATION trade fair in 2022 was Continental’s AI-based solution for the detection of available cargo space in trucks, semitrailers and trailers. This provides fleet managers via smartphone with precise digital information on how much cargo can still be loaded. In combination with the corresponding weight data from the intelligent tachograph or the fleet management system interface, dispatch can be optimized – for example, by offering free capacity on digital freight exchanges so that more routes are run at full capacity. More information
The Contadino is a fully electric, fully autonomous modular agricultural robot that has been used on farms around the world for basic tasks such as seeding, weeding, spraying, fertilizing and monitoring since 2019. The robot is equipped with LiDAR, radar, RTK GPS, camera and ultrasound, ensuring accurate object detection and classification, tracking and positioning accuracy of three centimeters. More information
The so-called last mile poses a major logistical challenge in metropolitan areas across the globe. Continental’s Corriere robotic vehicle is the perfect solution. Weighing just under 40 kilograms and measuring around 30 centimeters in height, the delivery robot is ideal for transporting food, medicines or smaller packages to end customers. A mobility solution like the Corriere can significantly relieve inner-city traffic if people no longer have to get into their cars to buy a tube of toothpaste, deliver a meal or pick up an order at the pharmacy. More information
of consumers in China consider electronic assistance systems to be desirable or even necessary basic features in their next car. In Japan, the proportion is 65 percent, and in Germany it is 61 percent.
AI the job creator
Continental is steadily increasing the number of its AI specialists in order to meet the rapidly growing demand for AI technologies. Around 1,200 AI experts currently work at Continental, and the figure is steadily rising. The knowledge, creativity, experience and skills of the company’s specialists form the building blocks with which new technologies are created and further developed. AI experts from various Continental group sectors are working together in Berlin, Frankfurt and Regensburg on solutions for the mobility of tomorrow.
„The lab is a decisive strategic measure to consolidate and align the company’s diverse AI expertise.“
Dr. Corina Apachiţe, Program Head Artificial Intelligence and Data bei Continental Automotive
Continental has been strategically expanding its expertise in artificial intelligence since 2016 and recently expanded its global AI team with an AI lab in Berlin. Here, AI experts from different group sectors work together on solutions for the mobility of tomorrow. “The lab is a decisive strategic measure to consolidate and align the company’s diverse AI expertise,” says Dr. Corina Apachiţe, program head for artificial intelligence and data at Continental Automotive in an interview. Her enthusiasm for AI is clear, as her video portrait impressively shows.
Artificial intelligence (AI) has become a key technology in the automotive sector. The market for artificial intelligence in the automotive industry is estimated at $2.3 billion and, according to research institute Mordor Intelligence, is expected to reach $16.2 billion by 2026. Continental recognized artificial intelligence early on as a driving force for its future business – and is responsibly harnessing the power of the technology in its products and processes.
Please also read the dossier on the topic of "Artificial Intelligence and the Mobility of Tomorrow"
(Stand: Juni 2023)