Bitworld AI

© Continental AG

Artificial Intelligence: Continental and DFKI Agree Close Collaboration

  • Continental expands its AI network through a collaboration with the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence
  • Technology company benefits at all levels, for example, in knowledge management, material flow, and software and product development
  • AI-based software and machine learning enable the future of automated and autonomous driving

Hanover/Kaiserslautern, June 20, 2018. The technology company Continental and the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) have agreed to enter into a partnership. DFKI, which is spread over several locations, is the world’s largest non-profit organization for researching artificial intelligence (AI). The collaboration will focus on improving internal processes and on the mobility of the future. “The collaboration with DFKI is part of our strategy to strengthen Continental as a technology company by using artificial intelligence at all levels. Continental will become an ‘AI-empowered company’,” says Kurt Lehmann, corporate technology officer at Continental, to mark the signing of the contract. “AI should support our employees in their work and provide them with new tools.” Furthermore, AI is the central pillar of mobility in the future. “We are now working on the assumption that autonomous driving will not be possible without artificial-intelligence technologies,” underlines Lehmann.

Joint research in DFKI ecosystem

As part of the collaboration, the Forschungslabor Intelligente Technologien, FIT for short (research lab for intelligent technologies), will be established at the DFKI location in Kaiserslautern. Here, in the ecosystem of DFKI labs, Continental employees will research the fundamentals of AI technology and address specific problems. This will include researching AI-supported methods of data analysis and software development. Continental is also working on developing AI-based tools that will help the more than 16,000 software and IT employees worldwide with quality assurance and upgrading functions.

Continental also employs AI in its product development. In 2020, the company plans to produce, for the first time ever, neural networks on a larger scale with its fifth generation cameras for faster object recognition. © Continental AG


Self-learning systems for better processes and quicker results

Continental engineers have already identified a number of applications for AI. For example, in material flow, machine learning can be used to create more precise forecasts of raw-materials requirements. DFKI has well-honed skills in this area of technology.

Professor Andreas Dengel is the head of the DFKI research sector “Smart Data & Knowledge Services.” For him, sustainable corporate management currently requires active and extensive knowledge management: “The main task is putting lean, decentralized and continuously learning organizations in a position to respond both flexibly and coherently.” For this purpose, DFKI experts are developing automated personal knowledge assistants, which are systems that identify documents and automatically detect people, projects, events or locations, for example. Knowledge assistants help configure workflows to specific requirements and provide relevant information in each field.

Faster object recognition thanks to artificial neural networks

Continental also employs AI in its product development. In 2020, the company plans to produce, for the first time ever, neural networks on a larger scale with its fifth generation cameras for faster object recognition. Artificial neural networks consist of adaptive mathematical units that can process and execute complex functions.

AI research at Continental

In 2015, Continental set up a central AI predevelopment department to coordinate the various AI research activities. The technology company is collaborating with NVIDIA, Baidu and many other research institutes in this field, including the University of Oxford, the Technische Universität Darmstadt and the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (India). In Budapest, Hungary, the Continental Advanced Driver Assistance Systems business unit opened a center of excellence for deep machine learning in May 2018. By the end of 2018, the technology company will employ around 400 engineers worldwide with specific AI expertise and is looking for further talented people for product and process development in artificial intelligence.

Continental developers are researching the use of artificial intelligence in the area of material flow. Machine learning can be used to create more precise forecasts of raw-materials requirements. © Continental AG



Enno Pigge

Enno Pigge Spokesman, Innovation & Technology Phone: +49 511 938-1622 E-mail:

Christian Heyer Head of Corporate Communications DFKI Kaiserslautern Phone: +049 631 20575-1710 E-mail:

© Continental AG

Continental Expands its Trutnov Powertrain Plant to Ramp up NOx- Sensor Production

  • The new hall with over 8,000 m2 floor space including 3,000 m2 production space heavily utilizes Industry 4.0 technology with advanced robotics and automation
  • 200 new jobs have been created to run the nine new production lines, dedicated to NOx sensors, which are an enabling technology for meeting modern vehicle emission standards
  • This investment in the Trutnov powertrain plant - opened in 2008 - further adds to the 19,000 strong Continental workforce in the Czech and Slovak Republic   


Trutnov (Czech Republic), June 15, 2018. The technology company Continental has opened a combined production and storage facility in Trutnov. Although it is a showcase of modern robotics and automation, following the Industry 4.0 principle with fully consistent data flows, 200 new jobs have been created. “With this investment in Trutnov in the North East of the Czech Republic, Continental will be in an excellent strategic position to meet the increasing demand for advanced NOx sensors”, said Klaus Hau, Head of Sensors & Actuators Business Unit, Powertrain Division. These electronic components detect nitrogen oxides in the exhaust gas of a vehicle and provide the data for the effective conversion of NOx into harmless substances.

3,000 m2 of the new hall will be dedicated to nine new production lines, another 2,220 m2 will provide storage space. Two SMT lines for the production of printed circuit boards complement the sensor manufacturing. Inclusive of the new staff 2,000 employees are now working at the Trutnov site. Thus, Continental also strengthens its position as one of the key employers in the region.

“Linking the existing production and storage areas to the new construction plant has been a great challenge since the beginning of the project," says Jiří Barvínek, Head of the Technical Department at the Continental plant in Trutnov. “Despite the tight schedule, we focused on maximum functionality and energy efficiency of the building, as well as the most effective solution for new automated production."

For instance, intelligent material flow units monitor and control logistic vehicles movement, while predictive maintenance is based on continuous data collection from individual pieces of equipment.

© Continental AG

Small carbon footprint and strong focus on good working conditions 

Thanks to the sophisticated air conditioning system and waste heat utilization, the modern building is energy-saving. In addition the newly commissioned hall also comprises offices, meeting rooms, a new training center, and a social background with locker rooms with floor heating. However, the Continental's production center does not only offer a modern work environment. Both informal and relaxation zones, training center, football pitch, and even table tennis will be available for both new and existing employees in the production areas. “Employees’ satisfaction is crucial to us. Our goal is to ensure that the whole plant is not only a working place but also a pleasant environment," says Lukáš Rosůlek, Director of the Continental Trutnov plant.


Simone Geldhäuser

Simone Geldhäuser Press Spokesperson Powertrain Division Continental Phone: +49 941 790-61302 Fax: +49 941 790-9961302 E-mail:

AI Pedestrian Detection

© Continental AG

CES Asia 2018: Continental Presents Artificial Intelligence, Networking, and Simple Charging in China

  • Continental presents innovative solutions for safety, efficiency, and vehicle networking at CES Asia
  • Pedestrians, distracted “smartphone zombies”, and gestures recognized in a live demonstration
  • Universal AllCharge System for electric mobility has its premiere in China

Shanghai, June 13, 2018. At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Asia from June 13 to 15, the technology company Continental is presenting intelligent products for safety, efficiency, and vehicle networking at the Shanghai New International Expo Center. The hardware and software range showcased by Continental extends from pedestrian recognition based on artificial intelligence (AI) to efficient and secure vehicle networking. The Computer-Vision platform is one of the highlights at CES. Visitors to the Continental booth #5702 in hall N5 can experience in a live demonstration how powerful such a system is. The artificial intelligence behind the camera recognizes and interprets the movements of visitors to the show.

“The development of the automotive industry is now no longer measured in horsepower and top speeds. It focuses on making safe, clean, intelligent, convenient mobility solutions available to users. That is why we are showcasing here at the CES Asia in Shanghai the cutting-edge technologies, solutions and services that will transport us into the future,” explained Enno Tang, President and CEO of Continental China.

New advanced driver assistance functions and automated driving systems are based on the understanding of any given traffic situations. © Continental AG

The smart car thinks ahead

At its booth, Continental demonstrates how AI will shape the mobility of tomorrow. The technology company's fifth generation of its multifunction camera relies on neural networks and smart algorithms as well as traditional computer vision processes to understand pedestrians' intentions and gestures. The intelligent camera, which will go into production in 2020, stands out with its 8 megapixel resolution and aperture angle of up to 125 degrees, both of which are used to recognize potential obstacles even earlier.

Visitors to the Continental booth can also test some of the new camera’s functions live. These include recognizing pedestrians, pointing out distracted “smartphone zombies”, and interpreting gestures such as fully outstretched arms as the signal to stop. The detailed understanding of a complex traffic situation demonstrated here is the basis of new advanced driver assistance functions and of automated driving. Only a system that is able to categorize its perceptions the way humans do will be able make the right decisions in complex traffic situations. With the help of AI algorithms, Continental's Computer-Vision platform calculates the state of alertness of the pedestrian as well as any gesture of the body using the images captured by the camera. This is comparable to an experienced driver who instinctively recognizes a situation as critical and prepares to brake.

Visitors to the Continental booth at CES Asia 2018 can experience the powerfulness of artificial intelligence. © Continental AG

Learn, speak, manage – and in China, charge easily too

The “digital companion” that Continental is presenting at the CES Asia is also capable of learning. To enable a normal conversation between driver and vehicle, a cloud-based voice-service is coupled to various functions, such as an interactive user guide. Depending on the type of warning and what it has learned from the user's behavior, the “digital companion” suggests what to do.

The innovative “AllCharge” system celebrates its premiere in China. Developed by Continental, the system combines an electric motor and an inverter for a complete charging system. It allows drivers to head to any charging station and get the maximum amount of power.

Premiere in China: The Continental “AllCharge” system combines an electric motor and inverter to make a complete charging system. © Continental AG


A million vehicles in China are already benefiting from the cloud-based Telematics Service Platform (TSP), which Continental is also presenting at the CES Asia. Via TSP, automotive manufacturers can exchange information with dealers, end customers, and other interested parties. The broad service spectrum of the platform includes customer relationship management, geolocation, geofencing, remote vehicle access, fault diagnosis, and fleet management.


Enno Pigge

Enno Pigge Spokesman, Innovation & Technology Phone: +49 511 938-1622 E-mail:

20180611 ADAS AI Artificial Driver

AI plays a large role in taking over human tasks. Vehicles will be able to interpret even complex and unforeseeable traffic situations.

© Continental AG

Virtual Driving School: Continental Uses AI to Give Vehicle Systems Human Strength

  • Pedestrian intention and gesture classification using neural networks
  • Pedestrian detection using Artificial Intelligence (AI) – large-scale production use in the fifth camera generation
  • Hardware and software offer everything from simple object detection to complex scene understanding using neural networks for automated driving

Shanghai (China), June 11, 2018. A basic requirement for sophisticated advanced driver assistance functions and automated driving is a detailed understanding and precise assessment of the entire traffic situation. To allow automated vehicles to assume control from drivers, vehicles must develop an understanding of the imminent actions of all road users, so that they can always make the right decision in different traffic situations. This task is best performed by training algorithms using deep machine learning methods. At the CES Asia, Continental will be exhibiting a computer vision platform that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI), neural networks and machine learning to improve advanced sensor technologies. Continental’s fifth generation of its multi-function camera, which will begin series production in 2020, will use neural networks alongside traditional computer vision processes. Depending on the available hardware, these can be scaled and refined, and using intelligent algorithms they improve the scene understanding involving the classification of the intentions and gestures of pedestrians.

The modular, scalable, and interlinked new camera platform performs all camera tasks and caters to every vehicle architecture. © Continental AG

“AI plays a large role in taking over human tasks. With AI software, the vehicle is able to interpret even complex and unforeseeable traffic situations – it’s no longer about what’s in front of me but about what could be in front of me,” says Karl Haupt, head of the Advanced Driver Assistance System business unit at Continental. “We see AI as a key technology for automated driving. AI is a part of an automotive future.” Just as drivers perceive the environment with their senses, process this information using their intelligence, make decisions and implement these using their hands and feet to operate the car, an automated vehicle must be able to do all this, too. This requires their capabilities to be at least on a par with those of humans.

Developing scene understanding and contextual knowledge

Artificial Intelligence opens up new possibilities for the computer vision platform: For example, AI can detect people and interpret their intentions and gestures. Continental uses AI to give vehicle systems human strengths. “The car should be so intelligent that it understands both its driver and its surroundings,” says Robert Thiel, head of Machine Learning in the Advanced Driver Assistance Systems business unit. An example illustrates what this means: A rule-based algorithm within an automated driving system will only react when a pedestrian actually steps onto the road. AI algorithms can even correctly detect the intentions of an approaching pedestrian in advance. In this regard, they are similar to an experienced driver who instinctively recognizes such a situation as potentially critical and prepares to brake early. It is about developing a full understanding of the scenario, with the help of which, predictions about the future can be made and reacted to accordingly.

Deep machine learning as a virtual driving school

Just like humans, AI systems have to learn new skills, humans in a driving school, AI systems using “supervised learning.” To do this, the software analyzes huge amounts of data to derive successful and unsuccessful strategies for action and later apply this learned knowledge in the vehicle. This essential ability of the algorithms to learn is continually being developed. For advanced driver assistance systems, data suitable for this kind of learning is available in the form of recorded radar and camera signals from real driving situations, for example. This huge database is a key component of the further development of AI at Continental. For example, the company relies on AI in its product development departments to perform extremely complex tasks such as pedestrian detection to learn the concrete parametrization of this design from huge quantities of data. This requires the creation of a system that combines and parametrizes the data input i.e. the millions of pixels in a camera image used for pedestrian detection. The second step involves enabling this system to search every combination of the parameters that solves the problem.

In addition to classic computer vision procedures, the MFC 500 also uses neural networks This allows to control complex situations in road traffic, such as crossing situations with approaching lateral traffic. © Continental AG

The technology company will begin large-scale production of this system with its fifth camera generation, with the previous camera generation already using deep learning approaches. Methods based on deep learning contribute to the mastering of this complexity on various levels – from vehicle surrounding monitoring to planning the driving strategy to actual control of the vehicle. Deep learning methods are also scalable, which means more data, more computing power, and therefore more performance.

Expansion of global AI activities at Continental

In 2015, Continental set up a central predevelopment department to coordinate the various research activities focusing on artificial intelligence. The technology company is collaborating with NVIDIA, Baidu and many research institutes in this field, including the University of Oxford, the Technische Universität Darmstadt and the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (India). In Budapest (Hungary), the Continental Advanced Driver Assistance Systems business unit opened a competence center for deep machine learning in May 2018. By the end of 2018, the technology company will employ around 400 engineers with special AI expertise worldwide and is looking for more talented people for product and process development in the field of artificial intelligence.

Pedestrian intention and gesture classification using neural networks. © Continental AG

Continental will be demonstrating pedestrian intention and gesture classification at the CES Asia from June 13–15 (hall N5, stand no. 5702, Shanghai New International Expo Center).


Sören Pinkow

Sören Pinkow External Communications Division Chassis & Safety Phone: +49 69 7603-8492 E-mail:

Surfvis 3D

Thanks to Surfvis 3D, Continental can support its customers as early as the design phase.

© Continental AG

Continental offers design and service competence for harmoniously designed vehicle interiors

  • Laser engraving and silicone embossing drum technology make an endless variety of designs possible
  • Surfvis 3D simulates the manufacture of components down to the tiniest detail
  • All relevant material tests performed in our own facility

Hanover, June 7, 2018. The seats are comfortable and provide support, the armrests offer relaxed comfort, the dashboard and the door paneling radiate elegance and clarity without looking cold and sober. Everything fits together; a person feels at ease here. The surface design was provided by Continental.

Because Continental offers its customers in the automobile industry much more than just high-quality surface solutions for vehicle interiors. Numerous additional design and service solutions make it possible for automobile manufacturers to differentiate themselves from their competitors, to increase their attractiveness as a provider, and to increase customer satisfaction. Thus, Continental supports vehicle developers and designers in designing and harmonizing the interior from the beginning.

The combination of laser engraving and silicone embossing drum technology developed by the technology company makes an endless variety of designs possible and thereby ensures exclusivity for the customer and a high level of perceived value in the automobile interior. The surface designers also ensure that all components – regardless of the material – form a unified appearance in the end. The holistically harmonized automobile interior is the goal at the end of the development process.

The concept vehicle THE PIONEER bun-dles Continental's surface expertise in an automotive context. © Continental AG

Trend scouts on the hunt around the world

The trend scouts of Continental are on the hunt around the world and can therefore give customers insight into the design trends of tomorrow. Always in focus: the trends of the automotive branch. The designers of Continental are also always engaged in creative dialogue with design networks and universities. All of this goes into the TrendCode, an innovative, interactive tool that can provide inspiration for creators, designers, and customers. This tool supports customers with creative and innovative design ideas.

Work begins with a three-dimensional grain development on the computer. From a genuine leather design to purely technical structures, everything is possible here. With laser engraving, the structure is transferred from the computer to a master drum made of high-strength plastic. This positive form then ultimately provides the negative form of the test drums. These are used to emboss the samples until one of these achieves 100% customer approval.

Now, harmonization begins. The surface simulation Surfvis 3D is helpful here. It simulates the manufacture of components such as dashboards and door panels down to the smallest detail, three-dimensionally. This allows Continental to support the customer during the design phase and to quickly give him feedback on whether or not the desired design can be implemented, where thin areas, folds, or grain torsion can occur. With the simulation, components can be optimized so that the best possible result can be achieved. The simulation program can even reproduce the grain itself and thus makes a photorealistic representation of the surface on the subsequent component possible.

In addition, Continental can produce any grain for any component in any color. This makes it possible for the company to perfectly match even different materials.

The drums for series production are also taken from a master drum. It is long-term stable and resistant to aging. As a result, the automobile manufacturers can rely on the fact that they will always receive the same grain in the same quality; and not only during the lifecycle of the model, but even 10 or 15 years later for spare parts business.

Additionally, Continental can perform all relevant material tests in its own facility. For example, the laboratories for surface materials in Hanover and Eislingen are certified in accordance with DIN EN ISO / IEC 17025. This guarantees that they provide the same testing competence and impartiality as external laboratories. The high level of testing competence makes it possible to offer solutions with which vehicle manufacturers can react to changes in the laws and higher customer expectations with regard to emissions in the vehicle interior, for example.

Bundled design and material competence

“With the aid of our design and service solutions, optimized soft touch interior surfaces can be realized, which directly appeal to the emotions of the customers, underscore the essence of a vehicle brand, strengthen its competitiveness, and promote ecological sustainability,” explains Ralf Imbery, Director of Design, Digitalization, Innovation Management. “This results in specific solutions, which offer the manufacturers the greatest possible additional benefit, with which they can target the wishes and needs of the automobile buyer in the respective market segment. This is also proven by our concept vehicles, which bundle our overall design and material competence and make it possible to experience the future today.”


Jochen Vennemann

Jochen Vennemann Manager External Communications ContiTech Phone: +49 511 938-18024 E-mail:

Axel Schmidt Group Manager Communications Konrad Hornschuch AG, ContiTech AG Phone: +49 7947 81 522 E-mail:


The world’s first three-dimensional shaped touch display that can be operated almost blind, from Continental.

© Continental AG

Successful on Eight Fronts: Continental Wins at the German Innovation Award 2018

  • Trackman XP rubber crawler track impresses with increased ride comfort and durability
  • In-vehicle safety enhanced by: 3D Touch Surface Display, two-finger touch gestures and Intelligent Glass Control
  • Four awards for new surface materials including breathable upholstery material

The technology company Continental was honored with a total of eight prizes for its innovative products at the German Innovation Award. The Trackman XP rubber crawler track impressed the panel with its innovative properties and user benefits, and received an award. Vehicle interior solutions were the recipients of three awards. Alongside the 3D Touch Surface Display and the two-finger touch gestures, Intelligent Glass Control, which darkens the vehicle glazing, also received an award. Four awards went to pioneering surface materials: one for the breathable upholstery material laif VyP, one for the skai digital printing collection for individual designs, one for the skai TransPOrter collection used on vehicle floors, and one for the environmentally friendly Flightfloor Eco, which is specially designed for aircraft floors. The German Design Council presented the awards on June 6 in Berlin.

Two-finger touch gestures reduce driver distraction. © Continental AG

Greater ride comfort, longer service life: new technology in the Trackman XP

The Trackman XP’s innovative properties are impressive. Special anti-vibration technology combined with optimized tread design reduces vibrations by as much as 70 percent compared with conventional tracks, therefore enhancing ride comfort – particularly for applications with a high tractive force. Special additional technological properties result in a longer overall service life. Armorlug technology makes the tracks last up to 23 percent longer than comparable lugs, for example. “The award is testament to the fact that we are setting new benchmarks for the market with the Trackman XP,” notes Dr. Michael Hofmann, who is globally responsible for the industrial conveyor belt business – and therefore also for the Trackman product range. Rubber crawler tracks with integrated sensor technology also feature among the company’s future technological innovations. This technology measures and monitors the temperature of the carcass when the vehicle is in operation. Targeted monitoring helps operators of agricultural vehicles, for example, to improve the service life and efficiency of the components and to avoid breakdown costs.

High-performance, durable and a leader in the industry: the Trackman XP rubber crawler track from Continental. © Continental AG

Recognized: improved interaction and Intelligent Glass Control

The 3D Touch Surface Display is the world’s first three-dimensional shaped touchscreen, which can be operated almost blind and combines design, safety and user experience in one product. The interaction by touch gesture combines elements of gesture interaction and touch operation to reduce driver distraction and operation time. “Our 3D Touch Surface Display and the two-finger gestures ensure that drivers can use their infotainment systems without having to take their eyes off the road, which increases safety for all road users,” says Dr. Frank Rabe, who is responsible for the innovative operating elements and instrumentation segment in addition to in-vehicle human-machine interaction.

With Intelligent Glass Control, side windows, rear screens and sometimes even windscreens can be individually and smoothly darkened. “This enhances comfort and makes driving safer,” explains Andreas Wolf, head of the Body & Security business unit at Continental. The technology uses special films that change their transparency in response to electric control signals – automatically or at the touch of a button. For example, the intelligent glass can prevent drivers being dazzled by low angle sunshine. And it also lowers the temperature of the vehicle interior, which reduces the burden on the air conditioning. By Continental’s calculations, this reduces CO2 emissions by around four grams per kilometer.

Side windows, rear screens and sometimes even windscreens that can be individually and smoothly darkened with Intelligent Glass Control. © Continental AG

Pioneering: breathable upholstery material and eco floor covering material for aircraft

The breathable upholstery material, laif VyP, is a hybrid material made from vinyl and polyurethane, and combines the best of both worlds as it is a durable material with a soft surface. It is permeable to air and water vapor. The breathability of laif VyP makes it extremely comfortable to sit on – even for long periods.

The breathability of laif VyP makes it comfortable to sit on – even for long periods. © Continental AG

The skai digital printing collection comprises 17 innovative styles, each of which comes in three different designs. The individual designs pick up on the trends of Natural Elements, Human Being and Cyberspace, bringing them to life in intensely sharp color and with 3D effects.

Continental has developed the skai digital printing collection for short production runs and individual projects. © Continental AG

The skai TransPOrter collection features superior-quality, well-designed and easy-to-clean surfaces for vehicle floors. It covers a range of TPO materials for stowage areas and driver cabs. Designs are available in a textile, wood, marble or stone effect. The films are ductile, robust, abrasion-resistant, slip-resistant, and resistant to oil and chemicals.

The easy-to-clean skai TransPOrter collection is an alternative to conventional felt carpet for vehicle floors. © Continental AG

The floor covering material Flightfloor Eco meets the aviation industry’s high requirements. It is halogen-free, highly flame-retardant and comes in a range of designs. It produces a weight saving of 700 grams per square meter compared with standard materials, which lowers fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Its high abrasion resistance gives it a long service life.

The floor covering material Flightfloor Eco meets the aviation industry’s high requirements. © Continental AG


Sebastian Fillenberg

Sebastian Fillenberg External Communications Interior division Phone: +49 6196 87-3709 Fax: +49 6196 8779-3709 E-mail:

Jochen Vennemann

Jochen Vennemann Manager External Communications ContiTech Phone: +49 511 938-18024 E-mail:

Morphing Controls

The instrument panel of the future: Morph-ing controls in the car interior.

© Continental AG

Buttons from nothing: Continental exhibits functional surfaces for the driver’s cab of the future

  • 3D-operating elements Morphing Controls only become visible as needed
  • As few buttons as possible, as much function as necessary: simple operation thanks to proximity sensors, force sensing, and tactile feedback
  • Continental will present Morphing Controls for the first time at its 300-year anniversary at the Vinnhorst site

Hanover/Babenhausen, June 7, 2018. A look at the future of the automobile: Illuminated buttons stand out against the elegant surface of a dashboard, as soon as the hand of the driver nears the surface. Where smooth artificial leather created a tidy, sophisticated look just a moment ago, three-dimensional buttons now light up. Once the driver has successfully used the one he wants, he feels a brief pulse as confirmation. As soon as he pulls his hand away, the buttons disappear once more without a trace behind the surface. With these “Morphing Controls” (operating elements that take shape), the technology company Continental meets a previously often contradictory demand in vehicle interiors for man-machine interaction: making as many functions as possible easily usable with as few buttons as possible.

Just one touch of the finger is all it takes: Thanks to morphing surfaces, the in-vehicle functions ma-terialize only when the driver touches the surface. © Continental AG

Technical highlight of the surface technology

“Thanks to surfaces that change, Morphing Controls make various functions usable, depending upon need and driving situation. This allows us to greatly reduce driver distraction. The minimalist dashboard looks harmonious, however, and offers full control at all times,” says Dr. Frank Rabe, the director of the Continental business unit Instrumentation & Driver HMI.

The stretchable and light-permeable Morphing Control material with the look and feel of premium artificial leather is a development of the surface specialists in the Continental group. Thanks to its minimal scattering effect, the film that is used permits a very precise and contour-precise portrayal of the illuminated symbols with simultaneously high illumination intensity and homogenous lighting. In its deactivated condition, both the symbols and the mechanical elements become wholly invisible and impalpable to the occupants.

Behind the surface, sensors, electronic, and electromechanical elements help to make the controls take shape when needed. © Continental AG

There’s more behind the surface than meets the eye

Operating elements that only take shape as needed help to create integrated, harmonious driver‘s cabs. For this, a combination of material innovation, sensors, electronics, and electromechanics is necessary: proven, capacitive proximity sensors behind the surface of the dashboard recognize the human hand and then activate the buttons. These move themselves forward through the reversibly stretchable multilayer surface material. Because the material is light permeable, the function of the buttons can be shown by means of LED illumination. The driver’s finger pressure is measured, and a tactile signal is triggered when there is sufficient force – another proven principal in this series.

This gives the driver feedback, telling him that he has successfully activated the function. With this process, Morphing Controls can practically be operated while blind. If the driver pulls his hand back, the buttons disappear behind the surface. All that remains is fine artificial leather and a homogenous surface from an ergonomic point of view, without any distractions.

300 years of tradition: from the “Wachstuchmacherey” to Morphing Controls

„Ruhige Oberflächen im Fahrzeuginneren bewirken wenig Ablenkung für das Auge. Gleichzeitig ist die Bedienung durch die Näherungssensorik, die Krafterkennung und haptische Rückmeldung denkbar einfach“, sagt Dr. Dirk Leiß, Leiter des Continental-Geschäftsbereichs Benecke-Hornschuch Surface Group. Der erste Demonstrator für die neuen Bedienelemente zeigt klassische Drucktaster („Knöpfe“). Genauso gut lassen sich aber auch Schieberegler damit realisieren. „Außerdem sind Morphing Controls ein modulares Konzept, das sich ebenso für die Türverkleidung oder den Dachhimmel eignet“, so Leiß weiter.

Die Morphing Controls gehören zu den technischen Highlights der Oberflächentechnologie und werden im Rahmen der 300-Jahrfeier des Geschäftsbereichs am Standort Vinnhorst (nördliches Hannover) erstmalig einer breiten Öffentlichkeit präsentiert. Der Geschäftsbereich für Oberflächenmaterialien geht auf das Gründungsjahr 1718 (Hannover) zurück. Damals als „Wachstuchmacherey“ gegründet, hat sich der Geschäftsbereich im Laufe seiner 300-jährigen Geschichte zu einem hoch innovativen Spezialisten für Oberflächenmaterialien im Automobilbereich und in der Industrie entwickelt. Das runde Jubiläum wird nun unter dem Motto „300 Years – Ideas Beyond Surfaces“ im Werk Vinnhorst gefeiert.

“Quiet surfaces in the vehicle interior cause little distraction for the eye. At the same time, operation is incredibly simple due to the proximity sensors, force recognition, and tactile feedback,” says Dr. Dirk Leiß, director of the Continental business unit Benecke-Hornschuch Surface Group. The first demonstrator for the new operating elements shows classic buttons. However, slide controllers can be just as easily implemented with the technology. “In addition, Morphing Controls are a modular concept, suitable for the door panelling or the headliner,” Leiß continues.

The Morphing Controls are one of the technical highlights of surface technology and will be presented to the broader public for the first time at the 300-year anniversary of the business unit at the Vinnhorst site (northern Hanover). The business unit for surface materials can be traced back to the year 1718, when the company was founded (Hanover). Founded at that time as a “Wachstuchmacherey”, the business unit evolved over the course of its 300-year history into a highly innovative specialist for surface materials in the automobile branch and industry. The milestone anniversary will now be celebrated under the motto “300 Years – Ideas Beyond Surfaces” in the Vinnhorst factory.

© Continental AG


Sebastian Fillenberg

Sebastian Fillenberg External Communications Interior division Phone: +49 6196 87-3709 Fax: +49 6196 8779-3709 E-mail:

Jochen Vennemann

Jochen Vennemann Manager External Communications ContiTech Phone: +49 511 938-18024 E-mail:

Dr. Dirk Leiß

© Continental AG

Company anniversary: the surface specialist of the continental group celebrates its 300-year existence

  • One of the oldest industrial companies of its kind in Germany
  • Developed from a family company to a global large company
  • Anniversary celebration with four days of reverie at the factory grounds in Hanover

Hanover, June 7, 2018. This year, the technology company Continental celebrates 300 years of surface competence at the Hanover site. The origin of the surface specialist of the Continental group go back to the year 1718. The founding of the former Wachstuchmacherey vor dem Steinthore created one of the oldest industrial companies of its kind in Germany. But what exactly does the surface specialist with its headquarters in Hanover do?

Dr. Dirk Leiß, who heads Continental's Surface Group, is looking forward to this extraordinary anniversary. © Continental AG

The success story began when the founder, Johann Friedrich Appel, developed the first idea for innovative surfaces and produced oilcloth based on linseed oil in his factory for wallcoverings, floors, clothing, and packaging purposes, as well as for the interiors of carriages.

Today, 300 years later, the surface specialist is an important part of the Continental group. With around 5,800 employees, the business unit is an important employer at 15 production sites worldwide.

The red brick facade on Beneckeallee in Vinnhorst is unmistakable. © Continental AG

Between tradition and innovation: from the carriage to the autonomous vehicle

From furnishing horse-drawn carriages to surfaces in autonomous vehicles, from the oilcloth tablecloth to the modern hotel lobby: The Continental surfaces have now solidly established themselves in many areas of everyday life. The world-renowned brands Acella and skai, for example, have been synonymous with high-quality plastic films and fine artificial leather for decades and are especially ubiquitous in automobile interiors. But the latest developments also demonstrate many years of expertise. For example, a formable, light-permeable film material makes new operating concepts possible in the automobile of the future and the dashboard becomes a giant touchpad. “Morphing Controls make it possible to supplement the look and feel of our surfaces with functional aspects,” explains Dr. Dirk Leiß, who is responsible for the Surfaces business unit at Continental. “This is a decisive development in our area, where we are the leading surface specialist.”

Continental is a trendsetter in the branch: With the global know-how from research, design, and application technology, the company is more than just a pioneer for innovative ideas in the automobile industry. For years, it has been shaping the furniture, construction, and commercial vehicle industries, as well as the do-it-yourself branch, with environmentally friendly surface materials.

Historic view of the main building in Vinnhorst at the turn of the 20th century. © Continental AG

Anniversary event: star-quality guests and four days of events

A moving company history: From a family company to worldwide surface producer in 300 years – a reason to celebrate. From June 6-9, the factory grounds at the Beneckeallee in Hanover will be transformed into an event location for four days, which tells the story of the 300-year surface competence of the company. From politicians such as the Secretary of Commerce of Lower Saxony, Dr. Bernd Althusmann, and the Senior Mayor of the City of Hanover, Stefan Schostok, to local students in selected areas of study, to neighbors and employees from all sites worldwide, everyone is invited. “There’s never been anything like this,” says Dr. Dirk Leiß. “I am happy that we will be able, with this event, to make everyone conscious of what has made us so successful for 300 years.” Whether on the family day, the gala evening, during the customer conference, or on public day – the event has a lot to offer. Visitors are invited to experience the fascination of the products in the facility, to submerge themselves into the world of materials, and to take a trip through time – from the first idea for a surface to innovations for the future.

Surface production in the 19th century: Production employees stand at the cutting station. © Continental AG

“IDEAS BEYOND SURFACES” is the motto for our 300-year anniversary. Please find here the chronical (PDF, 268.4 KB) .


Jochen Vennemann

Jochen Vennemann Manager External Communications ContiTech Phone: +49 511 938-18024 E-mail:

Axel Schmidt Group Manager Communications Konrad Hornschuch AG, ContiTech AG Phone: +49 7947 81 522 E-mail:

© Continental AG

Automotive Technologies in Demand Worldwide: Continental’s Dortmund Plant Celebrates 50th Anniversary

  • Dortmund plant is home to Fuel & Exhaust Management business unit and the global competence center for fuel supply modules
  • The product portfolio extends from a high-tech sensor for premium vehicles that has already passed the 100 million production milestone to components for exhaust aftertreatment systems, which production recently began in Dortmund
  • Around 830 employees at the plant benefit from flexible and family-friendly working conditions
  • High standard of vocational training and a variety of cooperative university programs

Dortmund, June 11, 2018. Continental Dortmund is celebrating its golden jubilee: the former VDO plant, which became part of Continental in 2007, turns 50. At its development and production site located in Arminiusstrasse, the technology company employs around 830 people. Since 2010 the plant has also hosted Continental’s global competence center for fuel supply modules – a market segment in which the corporation ranks among the international leaders. In 2017, the plant, which supplies more than 50 customers across the globe, added components for exhaust aftertreatment systems to its existing range of fuel supply products. The business unit responsible for these two segments, Fuel & Exhaust Management (FEM), is also based in Dortmund. “From here, we manage our worldwide business and this is where all the key decisions are made. As a global competence center we also support our sites around the world with our expertise,” says Dr. Markus Distelhoff, Head of the Fuel & Exhaust Management business unit.

Since it was founded in 1968, the plant has focused primarily on sensors, with fuel supply products joining the product range in the 1990s. One milestone in the history of the Dortmund plant came in 2001 with the start of production of the magnetic passive position sensor (MAPPS). This sensor is used to gage the fill level in the vehicle tank and it is currently the only system of its kind to have a leakproof seal that makes it absolutely corrosion-proof. As a result, it is equally suitable for all types of fuel and can be used worldwide. The robustness and versatility of this all-rounder have since led almost all premium automakers to switch to this high-tech sensor from Continental. Manufacturing the sensor is a delicate and demanding process which still takes place exclusively in Dortmund where a third production line recently came on stream. Early in 2018, the plant celebrated the production of the 100-millionth MAPPS.

The technically unique magnetic passive position sensor (MAPPS) is a central element in high-quality systems for gaging the fill level in the fuel tank © Continental AG


Comprehensive expertise and competitive production assure the future

Plant Manager Sibylle Büttner asserts that Continental Dortmund is well placed to face the future. “Since 2010 our plant has successfully settled into its new role as a global competence center. At the same time we remain a key production plant within Continental’s international integrated production network.” This, she said, was further evidenced by the latest additions to the product range. “The production of components from the exhaust aftertreatment segment that started here in 2017 will also help to safeguard the long-term future of Continental’s Dortmund plant. Because the internal combustion engine will remain the backbone of global mobility for many years to come and the demand for efficient emission reduction technology will continue to grow.” Market forecasts assume that while electrification will continue its advance, it is hybrid drives that are set to be the main beneficiary, so that in 2030 around 80 percent of new vehicles will still feature a combustion engine.

In its role as a competence center, Continental Dortmund supports the FEM plants around the world by developing new production technologies, trying out manufacturing and testing equipment, training employees from across the international integrated production network and providing on-site support when new production lines are introduced. At the Dortmund plant efficiency is the watchword and lean production principles are strictly applied, targeting rapid response times and the minimization of error rates. “We are working continuously to improve our processes, based not least on projects in the context of Industry 4.0. Examples include our automated guided vehicle system and the levels of automation in our latest production plant,” explains Sibylle Büttner.

Home office, sabbaticals, foreign assignments and training in jobs with a future 

One decisive factor in the success of any company is employee satisfaction which in turn is strongly influenced by the ability to successfully combine work and private life. With this in mind, Continental has adopted a pioneering approach, introducing globally governed flexible working conditions that apply to 90 percent of the corporation’s worldwide workforce across all levels. The employees in Dortmund also benefit from these opportunities that include mobile working, part-time and flexi-time hours, and sabbaticals of up to twelve months. Above and beyond this, the plant organizes activities including vacation programs for children and runs a Parent & Child office. And for employees who would like to acquire experience abroad, Continental with its global activities offers opportunities to undertake short- or long-term assignments at locations in other countries.

Continental Dortmund is also an attractive employer for young talents, offering a very high level of training. For several years now, Continental apprentices and bachelor students have returned above-average results in the final examinations staged by the Chamber of Commerce & Industry, almost all achieving good or very good marks. At present, 26 apprentices and cooperative university students are engaged in training at the Dortmund plant. Apprentices can train as industrial mechanics or toolmakers, while cooperative university programs include a Bachelor of Engineering with training as an industrial mechanic and a Bachelor of Science with training as an industrial business management assistant. “When we recruit young skilled workers, of course we prefer to draw on our own highly qualified talents – and we offer young graduates challenging jobs with bright perspectives,” says Sibylle Büttner. She is, of course, well aware that management positions in the automobile industry are still predominantly filled by men. But she urges young women not to be discouraged by this. In fact, she says, “Continental offers outstanding conditions for women. We are convinced that diversity is one of the key preconditions for our future success. Diversity will boost our capacity to respond successfully to our dynamic and increasingly complex environment and find new solutions for our customers. Mixed teams stand for better results.”


Simone Geldhäuser

Simone Geldhäuser Press Spokesperson Powertrain Division Continental Phone: +49 941 790-61302 Fax: +49 941 790-9961302 E-mail:

© Continental AG

Vodafone and Continental are Using Connectivity to Make Germany’s Roads Safer

  • Collaborative innovations to reduce traffic accident figures
  • Digital shield protects pedestrians and cyclists on the roads
  • Traffic jam warning system prevents rear-end collisions on the motorway
  • Joint tests focus on 5G, V2X, mobile edge computing and artificial intelligence


Hannover, June 10, 2018. Vodafone and Continental have joined forces. The telecommunications group and the technology company are announcing a new innovation-driving partnership at CeBIT. Their objective is to improve the safety of German roads with smart vehicle connectivity and they will be collaboratively developing innovations to protect all road users. The two partners are already working on application scenarios at Vodafone’s 5G mobility lab. A digital shield for pedestrians and a traffic jam warning system are two of the focal projects. They will be implemented with 5G, cellular vehicle-to-everything (cellular V2X) and mobile edge computing.

7100 accidents happen on Germany’s roads every day

The traffic accident rate is at its highest level ever, with 7100 incidents occurring every single day on German roads. The consequences are shocking: around 1060 injuries and nine deaths every day according to the Federal Statistical Office. Vodafone and Continental are committed to reducing the accident rate with new connectivity technologies in a collaboration to improve road safety. The two partners are testing out new concepts that will benefit drivers, pedestrians and cyclists at the 5G Mobile Lab in Aldenhoven. “A mobile phone with a digital shield function can save lives on the roads," said Vodafone CEO Hannes Ametsreiter. “Collaborations spawn innovations, and innovations mean progress. Progress that will revolutionize our roads.”​​​​​​​

In their cooperation Continental and Vodafone are committed to lower the accident rate with new connectivity technologies. © Continental AG

Cellular V2X: direct communications between vehicles and the infrastructure

Johann Hiebl, Head of the Infotainment and Connectivity Business Unit at Continental, commented, “Continental has been working to connect vehicles to each other and to the infrastructure for more than 20 years. Today’s vehicles need superior automotive technology and superior connectivity technology. The cooperation with Vodafone brings experts from both worlds together to develop solutions with smart communication technologies such as 5G, cellular V2X and mobile edge computing that make our roads safer."

The partners are optimizing the wireless network to cope with the immense data requirements of the automotive industry at the 5G Mobility Lab. Tomorrow’s fully automated vehicles will generate up to one gigabyte of data every minute, some of which will be shared with other road users. 5G, the next generation of cellular network technology, will be capable of processing up to 10 gigabits of data per second and make it possible for millions of cars to communicate with each other simultaneously. Road users can only warn each other of potential hazards if they are able to share data in real time. Cellular V2X technology makes that possible because it connects the vehicle to the cloud and facilitates information sharing between vehicles or between vehicles and other road users. Continental and Vodafone are also testing mobile edge computing technology – a technology that enables cloud computing capabilities and an IT service environment at the edge of the cellular network. This technology significantly reduces both the volume of data to be transmitted and the transmission path, and puts information processing speeds into an entirely new dimension.

For the digital shield, connectivity helps to warn drivers about crossing pedestrians even before they enter the field of view. © Continental AG

Cars communicating with pedestrians

Mobile edge computing technology will be used at the 5G Mobility Lab to test a digital shield for pedestrians and cyclists because around 25 percent of road traffic deaths (Federal Statistical Office) affect these two groups of road users. Vehicles will have built-in cameras to recognize pedestrians who suddenly decide to cross a road, for example. The camera will send live images to the mobile edge computer at the base station for lightning-speed Artificial Intelligence analysis.

If the system identifies a risk situation, it sends a warning to all the vehicles in the area via the wireless network. This also has advantages for car manufacturers, in addition to drivers and pedestrians. Relocating the computing power necessary for the risk analysis to the mobile edge computing server means that the manufacturer doesn’t have to integrate expensive chip sets in the car.

Cellular V2X technology can extend the radius of the digital shield by allowing vehicles, people and the infrastructure to directly share information, even when the hazard is beyond the reach of their own surround sensors. Every vehicle user profits from real time information from other vehicles. It allows the driver to make better, faster and more informed decisions in emergency situations, even if the hazard is outside the range of the vehicle’s own surround sensors. Pedestrian safety is also improved because drivers get advance warning if a pedestrian is dangerously close and are able to respond faster.

Continental and Vodafone test the intelligent traffic jam alarm to avoid rear end collisions. © Continental AG

Traffic jam warning system to prevent rear-end collisions

The two partners are also developing a traffic jam warning system based on V2X technology. The vehicles in a traffic jam send data via cellular V2X directly to all the other road users in the vicinity – both via the conventional wireless network and direct communication technology. An alternative route can be proposed to vehicles that are still some kilometers away from the traffic jam so that they can circumvent it. Vehicles approaching the end of the traffic jam are sent a direct warning so they can reduce their speed and avoid the risk of a rear-end collision.


Sebastian Fillenberg

Sebastian Fillenberg External Communications Interior division Phone: +49 6196 87-3709 Fax: +49 6196 8779-3709 E-mail: