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Creating The Future Together

Creating the future together - progress is team work

What do electrical engineers, doctors, computer scientists, psychologists, physicists and designers all have in common? They are all helping to develop the automobile of the future, an automobile which must be safe, efficient, comfortable and easy to use (despite all the high-tech elements) if it is to win mass approval.

Electric vehicles: mission-free driving in the city has already become a reality today.The car of tomorrow must be able to do a lot more than just delivering power and driving pleasure. Intelligent, networked and well-organized: this is how experts imagine the traffic of the future will be (see interview). The most varied of specialist areas are therefore bringing their expertise together in the research and development departments at Daimler; the results of pure scientific research have just as much a right to find a voice here as the latest findings about the driving behavior of humans or the traffic volume to be expected in the decades to come.

A simple look at the history of the automobile shows that it is not the solitary genius, working meticulously cut off from society and developing a revolutionary technology out of nothing who determines progress, but the intelligent coming together of new ideas with developments (some of which are already known) from different areas of application. Skillfully combined together and enhanced, these technologies can ultimately change the world.

Getting vehicles to drive with their own system of propulsion, this is what Leonardo da Vinci wanted to do as far back as the 16th century, but he never got past the design stage. Subsequent attempts to operate carriages with sails or clock mechanisms did not prove to be particularly productive. Steam engine technology was much more promising here, but the various models of steam-operated road vehicles, of which there were quite a few in the 19th century, were too heavy and too cumbersome and did not allow consistent operation.

Design drawing of the vertical single-cylinder engine developed by Daimler and Maybach. This design became the template for all subsequent engine builders. In the 1870s, Nikolaus August Otto demonstrated how current steam-operated machines could be operated more easily, more effectively and, most importantly of all, more safely. He used his four-stroke combustion engine for this purpose. The idea of an engine formed the working basis for those who can be regarded today as the real inventors of the automobile. Carl Benz, who designed engine and vehicle as a single unit, presented his three-wheel "patent motor car" to the public in Mannheim in 1886. The same year, he was followed by Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach, who had optimized Otto's four-stroke engine and reduced it in size. They used gasoline instead of gas as a fuel, with their carriage/car on four wheels.

Clear view to front and rear: Excursion in a Benz Dos-à-Dos in 1900. Daimler was to die in 1900, but Benz would live to see their developments shaping a new era of individual traffic within a few decades. But the pioneers of automobile construction certainly could not have predicted how complex and full of possibilities the technical system known as "auto" would be today. Knowledge from numerous disciplines has been coming together in automobile construction for a very long time. Batteries for example, originally developed by Allessandro Volta at the start of the 19th century, today are an element in an emission-free alternative to the combustion engine. Equally promising is the use of the fuel