Volkswagen Group Research and automation specialist KUKA have intensified their strategic partnership in the area of service concepts for vehicles of the future. Joint development of robot-based innovation concepts for vehicles of the future has now been agreed following the signing of a new Cooperation Contract by the Chief Executive Officer of Volkswagen, Matthias Müller, Head of Research and Development at the Volkswagen Group, Ulrich Eichhorn, and the Chief Executive Officer of KUKA, Till Reuter.
Autonomous automobiles and service robots are two subsidiary aspects of mobility in the future. These aspects will be analysed jointly through the strategic partnership. “We are working intensively on structuring the mobility of tomorrow. This is not simply about innovative vehicle concepts but encompasses completely new requirements in the service sector,” explained Müller.
One of the aims of the research collaboration is to develop robot-based innovations for all-electric and autonomous automobiles. “In future, robots will support humans in many routine tasks. And everyday life in future will be inconceivable without autonomous driving. We will work together on innovative concepts in order to shape this future,” said Till Reuter, Chief Executive Officer of KUKA.
The new cooperation links up with an existing joint research project looking into collaboration between human and robot. The e-smart Connect project includes a practical and user-friendly solution for charging high-voltage batteries of electric vehicles produced by the Volkswagen Group. This involves a KUKA robot independently connecting up the vehicle with a charging station in a specially developed application. The driver simply has to position the electrically powered automobile in a designated parking space. The robot takes care of connecting up the charging cable for the driver.
Aside from the technological fundamentals, plans are being laid for the development of other concepts for innovative applications in the new strategic partnership. “Autonomous vehicles will contribute to making mobility safer, simpler and more convenient. This includes innovative services associated with the automobile,” commented Eichhorn. “Our aim is to use the new strategic partnership to develop other opportunities in this area.”
The Volkswagen Group is planning a strategic e-mobility offensive in the course of realigning its drive strategy. By the end of 2018, more than ten new electrified models will be launched on the market. A further 30 models will follow by 2025. These will be all-electric battery-powered vehicles. In parallel, Porsche will manage the ongoing expansion of infrastructure for quick-charging stations. The Volkswagen Group is providing a vision for autonomous driving of the future with the “Sedric” concept car. Audi recently established Autonomous Intelligent Driving GmbH for self-drive systems. This company is carrying out work for the entire Volkswagen Group.
KUKA is one of the biggest providers of intelligent automation solutions and is the world’s leading manufacturer of production plants in the automobile industry. The Group’s own Research Department headquartered in Augsburg lays the technological fundamentals for innovations in industrial production and service robotics.