Bosch is set to debut a funky, futuristic driverless electric shuttle concept at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2019) in Las Vegas next month. It’s quite a spectacle on its own – the design is minimalistic, featuring an otherworldly screen-and-glass structure that encases a spacious, airy interior.

The automaker says the concept shuttle will soon be a common sight on city streets, be it for transporting goods or people, and it will feature a host of connected services. Bosch will also provide components and systems for automating, connecting, and electrifying the shuttles. Robert Bosch’s board management member, Dr Markus Heyn said “Bosch is developing a unique package of hardware, software, and mobility services for shuttle mobility of the future.”

Apparently, every square centimetre of the concept shuttle is fitted with technology, from electric powertrain and 360-degree surround sensors to connectivity management and a variety of computers. It also boasts a connected ecosystem that include ride booking, sharing, and networking platforms, parking and charging services, and software solutions for managing and maintaining the vehicles, as well as infotainment during the journey.

Ride sharing is made easy with this, as users are able to easily book a shuttle via smartphone at any given time. An algorithm then identifies the vehicle closest to the user and finds other users who wish to travel a similar route. The more passengers a single shuttle can transport, the cheaper the journey for everyone. This approach also reduces the amount of traffic in cities and mitigates the impact on the environment.

Bosch is currently developing the suite of softwares to make this a reality. When the shuttle pulls up to the requested pick-up point, users again use their smartphones to identify themselves via Bosch’s Perfectly Keyless digital access service. It recognises the owner’s smartphone as unmistakably as a digital fingerprint and opens the vehicle only for them. Every passenger always gets the seat that they reserved.

The shuttle’s electric powertrain – details and specifications of which have yet to be determined – will come with the company’s Convenience Charging service. This provide real-time battery charge levels, including how long it will last and where to recharge the vehicle. This helps eliminate the range anxiety issue that affect many markets today.

It also links vehicle information, such as how much energy the heating and air-conditioning systems are consuming, with environmental data such as congestion and weather forecasts, so as to predict vehicle range with particular accuracy. Furthermore, Convenience Charging finds the ideal charging station and can reserve it in advance.

For automation, Bosch develops and makes its own radar, video, and ultrasonic sensors, braking control systems, and power steering, just to name a few. It’ll also be equipped with Bosch’s predictive road-condition services so that automated vehicles know in advance what environmental conditions to expect.

Another key tech is Bosch road signature, which is a map-based localisation service with which automated vehicles can accurately determine their position in the lane down to a few centimetres.

Onto the cabin. The shuttle concept is a four-seater vehicle, with passengers sitting across each other for maximum legroom and comfort. Infotainment is provided on screens that can be used either by each passenger individually or in groups. There are on-board Wi-Fi, concierge service and Bosch’s e-payment service, for which passengers can use to pay for their journey.

Interestingly, there’s a camera-based system that scans the cabin to check whether anyone has forgotten their phone or handbag. If such a case is detected, the shuttle informs them directly via smartphone. The cameras can also detect gum on the seat or an overturned coffee cup and can make the necessary cleaning services immediately. This is so every passenger can start their journey in a clean shuttle.

Other features include Bosch’s over-the-air vehicular updates and predictive diagnostics for checking the shuttle’s key components. In the future, Bosch will pool updates from the data cloud and predictive diagnostics into a comprehensive connectivity platform.

For security, Bosch’s subsidiary Escrypt’s security solutions handle vehicle security – whether for keyless access systems, data connectivity with the outside world, or software updates. “In the future, every vehicle on the road will make use of Bosch digital services,” Heyn said.