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Daimler envisions the future of car technology


April 15, 2013

The Carcheticture concept uses the parked car as part of the home infrastructure

The Carcheticture concept uses the parked car as part of the home infrastructure

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Auto manufacturers are typically thought of in terms of tangible nuts and bolts, but the auto industry as a whole does a fair amount of conceptual thinking and prognosticating. Concept cars are the most visible part of this process, but automakers also host contests, conferences and conversations about the future of mobility and the world around us. Daimler recently gathered a group of post-graduate intellectuals and visionaries in thinking about the evolving roles of vehicles in the future.

“As part of our culture of innovation, we want to provide an impetus for visionary thinking. Future Talk offers us the opportunity – outside our own four walls – to enter into a dialog with avant-garde thinkers and discuss our ideas," explained Dr. Herbert Kohler, Vice President Group Research and Sustainability and Chief Environmental Officer at Daimler AG. "We are convinced that innovations are only effective if they follow a clear vision for the future. Therefore, it is important to comprehend social trends and developments at an early stage and sift out the relevant aspects for an automobile manufacturer."

Amidst some "okay, maybe you had to be there"-type mumbo jumbo, the Future Talk group came up with some interesting ideas, one of which was the idea of cars that could "give back to the city." In this day and age, the car is so often thought of as an aged villain and relic that pollutes the environment, so Daimler's group fleshed out a new, philanthropic role for cars.

Cars are getting smarter every year, using radar, GPS, cameras and other technologies to sense and react to the road ahead with and without driver input. The Future Talk group imagined the car leveraging those sensory capabilities for more than just driving. For instance, a parked car could monitor the surrounding area and communicate to a nearby child that it's safe to cross the street. In another example, the car could use its GPS system to provide directions to someone that's lost. Cars could create a sort of "guardian angel" network around cities and businesses, providing an ever-present safety watch.

In addition to safety services, the Future Talk group envisioned vehicles as an extension of commerce. In what sounds very similar to the Toyota Fun-Vii concept, cars would be equipped with large-screen displays advertising products to pedestrians. The screens could even serve as virtual marketplaces, selling products directly to those within eye-shot.

When back in the driveway, cars could become part of a greater "Carcheticture," an integrated energy system between dwelling and vehicle. As in Toyota's V2H system – maybe Daimler had Toyota's media site open throughout the Future Talk – the Carcheticture concept creates an energy bridge between the car and home. Daimler goes so far as to say the car's heating system could serve in place of the typical home heating system, eliminating redundant equipment.

Thinking about a car radiator heating a 3,000-sq ft home (unless they have us living in some type of 100-sq ft metamorphic dwelling pod) on a regular basis seems a little out there, however. But we guess "getting out there" is what meetings-of-minds like Future Talk are all about.

Source: Daimler

About the Author
C.C. Weiss Upon graduating college with a poli sci degree, Chris toiled in the political world for several years. Realizing he was better off making cynical comments from afar than actually getting involved in all that mess, he turned away from matters of government and news to cover the things that really matter: outdoor recreation, cool cars, technology, wild gadgets and all forms of other toys. He's happily following the wisdom of his father who told him that if you find something you love to do, it won't really be work. All articles by C.C. Weiss

The primary inefficiency of on Ice engine is how much heat is lost into the block this is why adding a good waste heat recovery system would do more good then the electric hybrid system. Heating a 3,000-sq ft house with the waste heat from a 150 horse power engine is quite reasonable especially if you have an efficient power takeoff to drive a generator or other rotary devise in the home. If you put a tube over the exhaust you can get domestic hot water as well. Tire to treadmill is not it.


@Slowburn If you think about it there are tons of systems where heat is waste. If there was a decent system to recoup heat back into energy cheaply the efficiency of numerous systems would be improved greatly.

To give one example data centers. I have heard estimates that they consume ~10% of the electricity in the US. I have heard the energy used to cool them is between 1/2 and 2/3. The bill for all that energy is no small amount. If there were means to recuperate some of the waste heat as something useful it would make a huge difference.

Nuclear reactors work mostly by heating water to steam and using steam generators but in most use cases (like data centers) there isn't enough heat to recoup energy through steam power and there aren't many other methods to use heat.

Heat is a form of energy, but we lack an efficient process to convert it to a useful form. I never see much research focused on that area either but it is an abundant source of energy we mostly don't bother to tap.

I'm getting off topic though, as for regularly using my car to heat my house though, that seems unlikely. I could maybe see using an automobile as an electricity generator in a power outage (like Toyota V2H) but that is about the only reason you would ever need your car to power your house and not the other way around.

Some of the ideas pitched above seem kind of nonsensical as Chris hinted. There is a difference between thinking outside the box and doing the opposite of what makes sense. Maybe some of the PhD's on the panel got their degrees in horticulture.


re; Diachi

Pressurized Stirling cycle engines and for generating electricity or pumping you don't need the shafts to penetrate the pressure vessel. You can also use liquids with a lower boiling point than water in a rankine cycle engines. The waste heat from data centers could be used in an absorption refrigeration plant. If all else fails build a tall chimney cooling tower and stick a windmill in it. Waste heat is low energy density but so is wind and solar at least the waste heat is reliable.


Much of what goes on at such conferences is entertaining but rarely of any practical value. Using the body of a car, or even worse, lots of cars, as advertising venues is easily more offensive than the various proposed attempts to place advertising above urinals. Just because you can do it does not make this a good idea. While it would be briefly amusing to see a critical mass of adjacent cars burst into a single coordinated, (Of Course some Madvertiser would try this), commercial flow show this would only serve to distract drivers. Generally, distracting drivers is not a good thing. Think of passing cars or parked cars spontaneously "Flowing" a commercial ala a 30's Busby Berkely dance routine or synchronized swimming. Again, distracting drivers is not a useful goal. On the other hand, combining large scale flash-mob-vertising with hacking a phone signal could give Anthony Wiener a really novel use for his 3D Phone tweet messages. Next, recovering heat from an ICE engine and storing any significant amount of such heat to hand off to some other use such as home heating is just far too clumsy even if it were significantly possible. The next element is that optimising to accomplish one goal inherently lessens other goals. Think of all the attempts at building power tools with one motor and a whole bunch of attachments. This usually works like crap. The most ludicrous example I have ever seen was an attempt by Electrolux to use a flexible shaft PTO to power a small stand sander and a cuisinart-style blender. A laughably bad idea with a giant pricetag. Excellent vacuum cleaner, worthless power tool and an unsafe kitchen appliance. One motor with many attachments usually produces bad results.


re; StWils

My experience is with farm machinery where the PTO works well.

Assume a continuous output 100hp (74.5kw) natural gas fueled ICE high compression for optimal efficiency and emission control, driving a good generator the electricity would be generated with less pollution than would be produced by a coal or oil burning power plant, and local generation would reduce transmission losses. Plus the waste heat providing domestic climate control (absorption refrigeration for air conditioning and food preservation) and hot water. The efficiency would be phenomenal. Given today's communication infrastructure phasing local generators in and out of the grid would not cause the utility providers undo difficulty. The bigist problem is the heat storage so your house is warm when you get home. (molten wax I think)


Interesting debate about the ICE but they're talking about electric cars. The article doesn't specify but in the press release.

Joe F

re; Joe F

That makes taking energy off the car just silly.


In the very near future, energy will no longer be of concern as we can tap into the unlimited supply of free energy. Travelling too will be different as we will all be flying insteading of rolling on the ground. So all these exercise will be completely off the mark, as such technology is still not known up to now. A major paradigm shift is coming soon.

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