Digital networking and autonomous driving functions mark a new and fascinating chapter in the success history of automobile manufacture, which stretches back well over a century already. With powerful environment recognition, highly accurate localization and low-latency communication technology, vehicle and traffic safety will thus increase dramatically. Precise, fully automated vehicle positioning of autonomously driven electric cars creates the conditions for introducing innovative high-current charging technologies located underground. If autonomous or highly automated vehicles share information with intelligent traffic controls in future, then this may lead to a significantly more efficient utilization of existing traffic infrastructures and marked reductions in traffic-related pollutant emissions. These are three examples that underscore the enormous significance of electric mobility together with autonomous driving functions for the development of a truly sustainable mobility. In this process, the range of scientific-technical challenges in need of a solution is extraordinarily broad. Numerous Fraunhofer institutes are involved in this key development process for our national economy, contributing not merely expert competencies at the highest scientific-technical level, but also practical experience in the industrial implementation of high technologies. In what follows, we take a look at some of the current topics of research. These include autonomous driving functions in complex traffic situations, cooperative driving maneuvers in vehicle swarms, low-latency communication, digital maps and precise localization. Also, security of functions and security against manipulation for driverless vehicles, digital networking and data sovereignty in intelligent traffic systems is considered. Finally, range extension and fast-charging capabilities for autonomous electric vehicles through to new vehicle design, modular vehicle construction and scalable functionality is addressed. And even though the automobile sector is the focus of our attention here, it is worth taking a look at interesting Fraunhofer developments in autonomous logistics transport systems, driverless mobile machines in agricultural engineering, autonomous rail vehicle technology, and unmanned ships and underwater vehicles.
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