Development of an open vehicle platform for the mobility of the future


Dr. Michael Lahres

Mercedes-Benz Group AG

Dr. Michael Lahres is a mechanical engineer and will lead the FlexCAR project from 1.8.2021. He is responsible for external representation and represents FlexCAR towards the project executing agency and the partners.


The open platform with open interfaces for the updatable and upgradeable vehicle of the future

Smartphones have fundamentally changed the way we communicate. Extensive office and data communication is possible from any place and at any time. Standardized and open software interfaces (API) allow third party providers to offer new applications based on existing hardware. As a common basis for the individual technologies of the FlexCAR project, the rolling chassis is an electrically driven and fully X-by-Wire controllable research platform with accessible and open software and hardware.

The vision of the collaborative project FlexCAR is to transfer this development to new mobility concepts...

... by opening up the process of innovation, development, production, and distribution. Suppliers as well as new market participants such as start-ups or developer communities are invited to provide services and components for the platform operator (OEM) or directly for the end customer over the entire vehicle life cycle. For this purpose, interfaces must be defined on the hardware and software side. They must be as easy to use as possible ("plug & play"), but still meet the highest cybersecurity requirements.

Within the framework of the cyberphysical vehicle platform FlexCAR, self-reflecting, self-describing and service-oriented components are to be developed and integrated in a vehicle demonstrator.

The open platform with open interfaces is a visionary way to react to the increasingly heterogeneous and volatile requirements of the market. User requirements change in ever shorter cycles, which in turn lead to greatly shortened product and technology life cycles. This places demands on the vehicle and producers of the future that can no longer be met by conventional means.

The FlexCAR project is divided into four thematic areas

Topic Area 1 – "Rolling Chassis" develops an electrically powered and 5G controlled research platform with accessible and open software and hardware - the Rolling Chassis. The platform serves as an aggregate carrier and common base for the FlexCAR individual technologies. This is extended by a floor plate, which interfaces with the interior and is available to Topic 2 for various use cases and interior studies.

The focus of Topic Area 2 – "Interior and Cyberphysical Access" builds on the topics of topic area 1. Interior-related use cases are examined here, focusing on the areas of "Working while driving" and "Relaxing while driving". For example, if a customer books a ride via an app, this request is sent and processed via 5G. A vehicle is assigned according to the customer's requirements and the customer is given details of the time and place. The vehicle arrives at the agreed location at the agreed time and keeps a lookout for the customer. The customer can contact the vehicle via cameras facing outwards. Only authorized persons are granted access and the ride can be charged accordingly. Future interaction between passengers and autonomous vehicles is therefore also an important focus during the journey.

Topic Area 3 – "Flexible product and production concepts" is working on the FlexCAR production concept in close collaboration with the Fluid Production (FluPro) project. Drive and energy modules are to be the focus of production engineering considerations here; for example, the questions of suitable sheet metal or structural profiling within the framework of the chassis. With the help of standardized interfaces, the Rolling Chassis is part of the cyberphysical production system and can be used as a further use case during production, for example as a driverless transport system, thus replacing current transport and conveyor technology in the factory.

Topic Area 4 – "Open development process of modular vehicles" deals with the implementation of one of the essential criteria of FlexCAR: the open development process. The goal is to develop and implement open interfaces in hardware and software, which will allow new business models to be established. FlexCAR is thus much more than just a new vehicle concept. It offers a research platform for the central development and production of modular vehicle systems.

"For the mobility of the future, we are working on modularity in conjunction with new production approaches. Different storage and drive concepts complement the holistic modular approach in FlexCAR."

Hans Hofele

Head of production and modularity concepts in FlexCAR

Mercedes-Benz Group AG

"The close cooperation with various industrial partners and institutes opens up completely new possibilities for my research. Through the constant exchange and the short distances, I am able to come up with completely new ideas and can quickly implement and test them."

M.Sc. Annika Ackermann

Scientific assistant for fibre composite technology

University of Stuttgart

"On behalf of the Mercedes-Benz Group AG research department, we are developing an autonomously driving research platform (Rolling Chassis) in ARENA2036, which will serve as the basis for the publicly funded FlexCAR project. Within the scope of this project, a multitude of innovative production processes up to the latest technologies for electric-autonomous driving will be used. In almost all areas, experts from industry and science are located on the research campus ARENA2036, who are highly committed to applying their knowledge. Especially the diversity in a small area in combination with the latest infrastructure offers unlimited possibilities to contribute to the future."

Martin Gottwald

Former Project Manager FlexCAR Rolling Chassis

Mercedes-Benz Group AG