U-Shift II (Demonstrator)

(Last change: January 2023)

The central goal of the ‘U-Shift II – Demonstrator’ project is to demonstrate the highly innovative concept of ‘on-the-road’ vehicle modularisation in a closed-off area for the first time.

Starting from the automotive state of Baden-Württemberg, the aim is to create a platform for new products and business models that goes beyond evolutionary approaches, thereby supporting the transformation of the state's economy.

Goals in detail:

  • Research and conceptual development of the necessary vehicle components
  • Research and conceptual development of the necessary infrastructure
  • Vehicle-side optimisation of the technical interfaces (mechanical, electrical, software) and the packaging
  • Development and implementation of the vehicle and infrastructure-side functional and E/E architecture
  • Practical demonstration of the prototype implementation of the vehicle and infrastructure concept and its functionalities with all relevant components
  • Demonstration of a mixed application of goods and passenger transport in an enclosed space
  • Transparency and acceptance of the U-Shift concept (lighthouse) through integration of the public

Dialogue with Civil Society

The technical development of the vehicle is accompanied by a dialog with citizens wich started in September 2020 with an online survey about U-shift. The project team provided insights into the development process and incorporated ideas from civil society. The focus was on possible applications and future visions for the U-Shift vehicle.

In order to gather a wide range of requirements and ideas and incorporate them into the project, we welcome the active participation of people with diverse backgrounds and interests. Dialogue with civil society started with an online survey about U-Shift. We will keep you informed about opportunities to get involved here in the future.

Workshop on the municipal perspective on the U-Shift

On 15 June 2023, a workshop at the Federal Garden Show in Mannheim focused on the perspective of municipalities on the U-Shift. Representatives of different cities and municipalities were invited to the workshop. Together with a team of scientists, they collected requirements for the U-Shift, discussed opportunities and challenges and worked out potential applications. The U-Shift is suitable both for the transport of people (public transport) and goods, as well as for the provision of services, e.g. as a mobile family doctor's practice or gastronomy. This is made possible by specific capsules that can be flexibly combined with an electric, driverless drive unit. Due to the versatility of U-Shift, possible applications concern not only aspects of public transport or transport in general, but also aspects of urban or community development and offer potential for more climate protection.

 An important aspect of the concept development is the close exchange between science and practice. For this purpose, the U-Shift team presented the concept during the workshop on the municipal perspective and offered the opportunity to explore drivable prototypes.

Experiencing the U-Shift prototypes at the Federal Horticultural Show - Driveboard with passenger capsule

Afterwards, the participants gathered ideas for possible applications in small group discussions and discussed aspects that could be associated with the use of U-Shift in municipalities. Finally, everyone was able to experience what a ride on the U-Shift feels like during a tour of the Garden Show grounds.

Presentation of the U-Shift concept and discussion of ideas for possible applications

Capsule design concepts for U-Shift - project cooperation with the University of Applied Sciences Magdeburg-Stendal

Together with students from the Master's course in Engineering Design at the University of Applied Sciences Magdeburg-Stendal, additional capsule concepts were designed for U-Shift and implemented as virtual 3D models. With these future-oriented concept ideas the students demonstrate the great potential of the modular U-Shift vehicle.

At the end of the project, the students visited the DLR site in Weil im Schönbuch and present their ideas and to experience the U-Shift live.

  • Ben Henneberger – Mobile Overnight Unit
  • Emilio Erbe - Delivery capsule
  • Lisa Peschke, Meike Schnitker - Learning capsules
  • Ke Xu, Jinghan Yang – Overnight capsules for family and friends
  • Qiqi Feng – Blood Donation Capsule

Thank you to the students for the detailed elaborations!



A special thanks for the project supervision on the part of the HS Magdeburg-Stendal goes to the institute director (Institute for Industrial Design) Prof. Jan Bäse. Supervision DLR: Robert Hahn

More information about the capsule concepts and the U-Shift vehicle:


As a research institute for vehicle concepts, we are always interested in future cooperation with universities and college semesters as part of the U-Shift project landscape. Feel free to contact us via:  u-shift@dlr.de


U-Shift Exhibition

Whether as an on-demand bus, transporter or sales stand - the futuristic U-Shift vehicle is flexible and versatile. An exhibition on U-Shift offers visitors a wide range of information about the vehicle and its possible uses. With texts, films and models, the project partners explain the U-Shift concept and show what is currently being researched.

Exhibition dates:

27.07.2022 bis 07.08.2022 - Landesgartenschau in Eppingen
14.09.2022 bis 03.10.2022 - Landesgartenschau in Neuenburg am Rhein

Ideas workshop on the mobility of tomorrow

On August 3, an ideas workshop on possible applications of the U-Shift was held to accompany the exhibition at the State Garden Show (Landesgartenschau) in Eppingen. A team of scientists from the German Aerospace Center (DLR) presented new ideas for tomorrow's mobility and developed them further together with guests of the garden show. In short pop-up workshops, participants collected ideas and exchanged visions for the U-Shift application. In addition to discussions on the potential for urban areas, there was a lively interest in possible applications in rural areas. Examples of this are shuttles to existing rail connections or service capsules in the medical sector.


A special highlight of the Ideas Workshop was the opportunity to experience the U-Shift in virtual reality using VR glasses. This gave visitors a vivid impression of the vehicle, for example by allowing them to virtually enter the vehicle and view the interior. The intuitive experience complements classic methods of information transfer and thus supports the exchange between the research team and a wide variety of user groups. In the future, VR will be increasingly used in workshops to optimally coordinate user needs and technical vehicle design.

U-Shift Accessibility Workshop

Thanks to its modular concept, the U-Shift can be used flexibly for both the transport of people and goods. One possible application is public transport, especially in times and areas with few passengers or as a supplement at peak times. The issue of accessibility is of great importance in order to offer everyone good access to mobility. The requirements for the barrier-free use of U-Shift were examined by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in a workshop on June 27, 2022. People with limited mobility themselves or who are professionally involved in the topic tested it with a team scientists to get in and out of a prototype of the U-Shift. In small groups, the participants discussed their experiences and noted some requirements. The U-Shift team evaluates the collected requirements and takes them into account as far as possible in the further development of the U-Shift and the construction of new and improved prototypes.


How do citizens see their everyday mobility, autonomous driving and the U-Shift concept?

At the start of citizen participation, the project team carried out an online survey, which was advertised at a public event organized by the Baden-Württemberg strategy dialogue for the automotive industry, on the websites of scientific institutions and on social media. The survey includes general questions about current everyday mobility and desires for future mobility, questions about driverless driving, asking for opinions on U-Shift-specific aspects, and socio-demographic questions to classify the answers given. Selected results of the survey are presented below.

124 people took part in the survey, 98 of whom answered the complete questionnaire. The majority of the participants have a high level of education (88%), are between 21 and 39 years old (58%) and are male (58%). Around half assign themselves to an urban environment (50%), the remaining people state that they live in a small town (14%), a suburb (26%) or a rural region (11%).

Most participants answered the question "Where would you like to change your mobility the most?" with "better cycle paths and footpaths" (56%), followed by "being more environmentally friendly on the road" (47%) and "more connections in public transport , especially at peak times” (42%). On-demand public transport is also rated as a positive option for the future, with 32% of respondents wanting it.

With regard to possible future changes in the world of work due to electric and automated driving (see figure below), around a third of those surveyed see the need to actively develop solutions to replace jobs that will be lost. At the same time, however, half of those surveyed also see opportunities for new business models to create jobs. The required level of qualification is considered to be higher and is associated with greatly changed specialist knowledge (62% of 110 people who answered the question, multiple answers possible).


Query the assessment of changes in the working world in connection with electric and automated driving (source: online survey U-Shift, DLR)


Those surveyed have a positive attitude towards the U-Shift concept: 54% of those surveyed can well imagine using the U-Shift in combination with other means of transport, 42% would like to test it at least once and only 1% would not use such a driverless vehicle (105 answers, no multiple answers possible). With widespread use of vehicles such as the U-Shift in public transport, participants hope that there will be less environmental pollution (74%), more connections in public transport (72%) and time savings through better connections (61% of 105 people who answered this question, multiple answers). possible).

As capsule applications (see images below), a very large proportion of the people surveyed can imagine a supply to retailers, use as a removal capsule or passenger transport on public transport (around 80 % in each case). Use as a mobile packing station (71 %), as a sales stand at the weekly market, as a space for medical supplies, as a snack stand or for services (e.g. mobile bicycle repair shop) is also viewed positively (105 participants answered this question, multiple answers possible).

Visualization of exemplary applications of the U-Shift capsules

The feedback shows the project team of DLR, FKFS, KIT and Ulm University, which is currently working on the construction of a technical U-Shift prototype, the focus of possible applications from the citizen's point of view.

Citizens' forum on the digitization of mobility

As part of the citizens' forum "Digitization of Mobility" of the Strategy Dialogue Automotive Industry Baden-Württemberg, the Institute for Vehicle Concepts and the Institute for Transport Research jointly presented the vehicle concept U-Shift in a participatory workshop on July 10, 2021 and developed potential application scenarios with citizens. The results of the workshop can now be found on the page of the participation portal Baden-Württemberg [... to article].



Ministerium für Wirtschaft, Arbeit und Wohnungsbau (Ministry of Economics, Labour and Housing) Baden-Württemberg


04/2020 – 12/2024

Project management

Marco Münster
Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt
Institut für Fahrzeugkonzepte

Mascha Brost
Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt
Institut für Fahrzeugkonzepte

Project partners

•    German Aerospace Centre, Institute of Vehicle Concepts (project management)
•    Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Institute for Information Processing Technology (ITIV)
•    Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Institute of Automotive Systems Engineering (FAST)
•    University of Ulm, Institute for Measurement, Control and Microtechnology (MRM)
•    Research Institute of Automotive Engineering and Vehicle Engines Stuttgart (FKFS)