Mr. Stadler, are you already looking forward to the self-driving car?
Stadler: What I’m looking forward to first is the piloted car. We will take a major step forward in 2017 with the next generation of the Audi A8. This will be followed in 2018 by our electric SUV, likewise with piloted functions. If required, the Audi A8 will be able to drive piloted at speeds of up to 60 km/h, thus relieving drivers from often stressful stop-and-go and convoy traffic. Beyond that, the person at the wheel can get more out of active driving, because driving pleasure increases overall if the car takes on most of the tedious, annoying situations.
But that’s just a first step toward autonomous driving.
Stadler: But a big step on a road we embarked upon a long time ago with our extensive array of assistance systems. Piloted driving is currently the most complex stage in the digitalization of the car. Its backbone is an environmental recognition system made up of a vast number of sensors. There’s a decision-making entity with enormous computing power known as the central driver assistance system. It also requires active lateral and longitudinal vehicle control, usually via gas, brakes and steering, and a manmachine interface to serve as an operating concept. It’s basically one step after another. Over the years to come, the car will master ever higher speeds and an increasing number of scenarios. Our aim is clear: Audi will continue to maintain its position at the forefront of this technology.
What is your vision of an Audi for the year 2030?
Stadler: Imagine you come out of your office and your Audi drives up to you, without a driver. You can leave a bit earlier today, because you’ll handle the last video conference of the day from the car. Afterward, you lean back and flick through the newspaper. Your car guides you serenely past all traffic congestion and you arrive home quickly and unstressed. Your Audi simply parks itself into a tight parking spot in the underground garage. You get out of the car before it parks. It could well be just like that in 2030.
But will the car still retain to its emotional meaning?
Stadler: The car is synonymous with freedom, and will remain so. Whether it’s for sport, vacationing or covering short distances, the car offers unparalleled transport flexibility. Obviously, the place of the car within society will change, with sustainable CO2-neutral mobility being the ultimate objective. But the car will still have a great deal of meaning in the future, too. This applies especially to ever-increasing networking in the internet of things, i.e. the networking of cars with one another and with the infrastructure, too.