Information on the vehicle concept


The concept

The autonomous, driverless, electric vehicle concept U-Shift enables a new kind of modularity through the separation of driving module and transport capsules and thus also a new intermodality, new products and business models. The driving module can be used in combination with various capsule-types for the transport of people and goods. Application examples are e.g. autonomous, electromobile overnight delivery, autonomous intra-logistics and barrier-free passenger transport.


The autonomous driving module integrates all components and systems required for driving. In addition to the electrical drive, battery or automation components, the driveboard has an integrated lifting system for an easy and quick exchange of all types of capsules.  Capsulses will be reallocated “on-the-road” – meaning  within an urban region – to allow new transport and mobility services.

  • driverless, flexible, standardizable
  • electric drive system
  • high utilization (24/7) and quiet night operation



The capsules are only equipped with the most necessary technical systems and can thus be produced cost-effectively.

  • individualized and flexible
  • needs-based: use of various capsules in passenger transport (people mover, private capsule) and in commercial transport (delivery traffic, service, recycling pod)
  • “simple", light and cost-efficient


The automation is much more closely linked to infrastructure than current approaches of Cooperative Automated Driving (CAD). Key elements are:

  • fail-safe via infrastructure sensors
  • management via traffic control center
  • optimized use of road infrastructure



Current project initiatives


  • Until the end of 2019, we show the feasibility of the vehicle concept with other project partners in the project “ModECaP”, which is funded by the “Ministerium für Wirtschaft, Arbeit und Wohnungsbau Baden-Württemberg”.
  • We build up a real size mock-up of the vehicle, including functional elements such as the lifting system, with several partners until 2020. This project “U-Shift I” will be funded by the “Ministerium für Wirtschaft, Arbeit und Wohnungsbau Baden-Württemberg”.
  • A first U-Shift vehicle will be used in a field-test to demonstrate its functionality under real conditions. The first intended use case is the use in Hub2Hub goods transport with the connection to public transport.
  • At the same time, a study (“U-Shift Control”) for a new approach to infrastructure-based automation and traffic control is being elaborated. MAD (Managed Automated Driving) will be an innovative step forward from CAD (Cooperative Automated Driving) and provides overall optimization for fleets of automated vehicles and an new safety level for automation in urban environment (for U-Shift but also open to all AD, CAD applications in an open platform.



Publications regarding the vehicle concept


  •  Ulrich C., Friedrich H.E., Weimer J., Hahn R., Kopp G., Münster M. (2019) Technologies for a modular vehicle concept used in passenger and goods transport. In: Bargende M., Reuss HC., Wagner A., Wiedemann J. (eds) 19. Internationales Stuttgarter Symposium. Proceedings. Springer Vieweg, Wiesbaden (https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-658-25939-6_49)
  • Friedrich H.E., Ulrich C., Schmid S. (2019) New vehicle concepts for future business model. In: Bargende M., Reuss HC., Wagner A., Wiedemann J. (eds) 19. Internationales Stuttgarter Symposium. Proceedings. Springer Vieweg, Wiesbaden (https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-658-25939-6_64)
  • Ulrich C., Friedrich H.E., Weimer J., Schmid S. (2019) A highly innovative on-the-road modular vehicle and operation concept to solve today traffic issues. In: 32nd Electric Vehicle Symposium (EVS32)
  • Ulrich, C.; Friedrich, H.E.; Weimer, J.; Schmid, S.A. New Operating Strategies for an On-the-Road Modular, Electric and Autonomous Vehicle Concept in Urban Transportation. World Electr. Veh. J. 2019, 10, 91 (https://doi.org/10.3390/wevj10040091)




04.07.2019 – wm.baden-wuerttemberg.de

Second progress report by the ministry of economics Baden-Württemberg

The second progress report of the “Strategiedialog Automobilwirtschaft BW" outlines the current status of the projects “ModECaP” and “U-Shift I”:

“[…] In  der  Machbarkeitsstudie […] ModECaP hat ein  Konsortium  um  den  Konsortialführer  Deutsches  Zentrum  für  Luft-  und  Raumfahrt,  Institut  für  Fahrzeugkonzepte  ein innovatives Fahrzeugkonzept entwickelt, das aus drei Hauptmodulen (DriveBoard, Personenkapsel, Güterkapsel) besteht […]. Im zur Förderung durch das Wirtschaftsministerium Baden-Württemberg vorgesehenen Folgeprojekt U-Shift I – Mock-up soll dieses Fahrzeugkonzept nun aufgebaut und weiterentwickelt werden.”


22.03.2019 – golem.de

The vehicle of the future is modular

In an interview with Dipl.-Ing. Marco Münster, an employee at the DLR Institute of Vehicle Concepts and team member in the U-Shift project, an article was written about various future vehicle concepts. In addition to the project "Next Generation Car", our on-the-road modular vehicle concept U-Shift is also addressed:

„[…] Es nennt sich U-Shift, das Fahrzeug wird dabei in eine Antriebs- und eine Nutzeinheit aufgelöst: Erstere ist ein U-förmiges Chassis mit Antriebsstrang und Rädern, Driveboard genannt. Die Driveboards soll es, je nach Einsatzszenario, in unterschiedlicher Ausführung geben - etwa was die Länge oder die Leistung des Antriebsstrangs betrifft.[…]“


20.07.2018 – electrive.net

Baden-Württemberg supports further projects for new technologies

„[…] Mit rund 2,3 Millionen Euro fördert das Wirtschaftsministerium Baden-Württemberg sechs weitere Forschungsvorhaben, um neue Technologien im Bereich Elektromobilität und Fahrzeug-Digitalisierung voranzubringen. Die Projekte befassen sich mit den Themenfeldern […] modulare autonome Fahrzeugkonzepte […].”


06.12.2019 - baden-wuerttemberg.de

Two million euros for innovative "U-Shift" vehicle concept
„Mit dem Fahrzeugkonzept „U-Shift“ geht das Deutsche Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt neue Wege, um die urbane Mobilität von morgen nachhaltiger, effizienter und komfortabler zu gestalten. Im Rahmen des Strategiedialogs Automobilwirtschaft fördert das Wirtschaftsministerium das Projekt mit rund zwei Millionen Euro. […]“



Impressions of the vehicle design


All designs rendering have been created by the DLR-FK employee Mr. Robert Hahn. Any duplication, processing, distribution or any form of utilisation beyond the scope of copyright law shall require the prior written consent of the project manager (Juergen.Weimer@dlr.de).