Continental invests in Urban Software Institute to co-develop smart city systems


To contribute to the development of smart cities and ITS, international automotive technology company Continental has made a strategic investment in the Urban Software Institute GmbH.

As part of its investment arrangement, Continental is taking over the Urban Software Institute’s advisory board seat for car applications and becomes a strategic automotive partner, mainly to address issues related to the integration of infrastructure data for vehicles. The Institute was founded in 2012 with the aim of assisting cities around the world with digitalization. With its UrbanPulse technology, the Institute has developed one of the leading open-data platforms designed specifically for cities and municipalities, making it possible to collect and aggregate data from the various infrastructures of a city. Innovative business models are used to create and operate new services on the basis of standardized interfaces for smart applications, including those for the traffic sector.

Both companies will further develop products in the infrastructure-to-vehicle (I2V) field, based on reusing and sharing traffic data for improved traffic management. A specific application of their networked city and interconnected vehicle plans is in the further development of Continental’s eHorizon (electronic horizon), which turns vehicles into both recipients and senders of anonymous traffic data. This enables drivers and the vehicle’s electronics to benefit directly from real-time traffic and traffic-light data, leading to a substantial reduction in exhaust emissions and fuel consumption. The first test project from the partnership is already underway in Darmstadt, Germany, where live traffic-light data is made available to drivers.

Using the same technology, individual vehicles and especially vehicles in a fleet can also become important data sources for the city. Purely anonymous data, such as position and average speed, can help cities optimize traffic-light phases in real time. This can be used to improve the flow of traffic at peak times and help emergency vehicles reach their destinations more quickly. Detailed statistical data on vehicle flows can also help urban planners to determine requirements for main roads, industrial and residential areas, and optimize their planning. By taking over the advisory board for car applications at the Urban Software Institute, Continental will use its extensive expertise in car electronics and interconnectivity to streamline the requirements between automotive technology and urban applications and services.

“With increasing urbanization, intelligent traffic planning and control is becoming increasingly important for drivers and cities. The interconnectivity between city and vehicle is therefore the key to an attractive urban environment in the future,” explained Ralf Lenninger, manager of the ITS business unit at Continental. “We look forward to developing this interconnectivity together with the Urban Software Institute. With its UrbanPulse, the Institute has developed a data platform that allows us to develop applications that make it more comfortable and, in particular, more efficient to move vehicles through the city and make urban mobility more sustain-able.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).