Feb 29, 2016 | By Benedict
The Soulmate concept car, developed by EDAG and Bosch last year, features a 3D printed body and brings Internet of Things connectivity to the fore. The 3D printed car was first unveiled at CES 2016, and has since been showcased at the Geneva Motor Show in Switzerland.
What will the car of the future look like? What technological features will it possess? And how will it be made? Auto manufacturers across the globe are constantly striving to answer these questions, and a partnership of two reputable German companies has recently delivered a convincing answer to all three. Soulmate, a “smart car” of the future (2021, to be precise), is the result of a collaborative project between German manufacturers EDAG and Bosch, and has already wowed audiences at CES 2016 and the 2016 Geneva Motor Show.
The futuristic Soulmate was designed to be more than just a vehicle. With its unveiling of the 3D printed smart car, Bosch wanted to reintroduce the car as our “third living environment”, by amping up its connectivity to the Internet of Things. EDAG, a fellow subscriber to this technological philosophy, also wanted to bring the Soulmate within the digital world of its driver. But under all the digital innovation on its dashboard, the Soulmate is a work of masterful 3D printed engineering at its core.
The 3D printed roadster is a demonstration of functional, lightweight automobile design. Its bionically inspired “skeleton” structure was entirely 3D printed, and is covered with a fabric outer skin. The design is reminiscent of EDAG’s Light Cocoon, the car which inspired Bosch to join EDAG's project, and which was showcased at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show. The skeletal pattern of both cars has been expertly designed to bear pressure as effectively as a solid structure whilst significantly reducing mass, by remaining thicker in points of high stress and eliminating material where it is not needed.
This radically different approach to constructing the external shell of a vehicle helps the Soulmate showcase its numerous advantages and unusual features. The interior and exterior surfaces are illuminated by an internal lighting system, which shows the silhouetted 3D printed skeleton through the fabric cover. What’s more, this full-body lighting allows the driver to communicate with fellow drivers via light signals, with a greater variety of patterns than is possible with regular headlights and taillights. The luminous outer skin of the car can, for example, alert other drivers to potential hazards, such as cyclists in the other vehicle’s blind spot. The driver of the Soulmate can also trigger any of the car’s doors to flash red, to signal danger to the rest of the highway.
Connectivity is another key element of the 3D printed Soulmate. A team of technological experts from Bosch installed a smart system within the car which allows the driver to be in constant contact with their smart home. The driver can, for example, let a deliveryman into her house and acknowledge receipt of a delivery by simply touching the car’s display. Additionally, networked “infotainment” works to navigate the driver through traffic and through daily tasks, whilst on the road. The interface of the vehicle can be controlled by gestures and through haptic inputs, allowing the driver to remain focused on the road.
EDAG and Bosch affectionately dubbed its creation “Soulmate” as a reference to its potential relationship to the driver: the fully IoT-connected car has been designed to become an indispensable yet beloved element of the driver’s life.
Posted in 3D Printing Application
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