At Audi we are therefore continually driving forward the intelligent networking of our vehicles – with each other, with the driver, the internet and the surroundings. With our various digital services inside and outside the vehicle, we are meeting the digitalisation requirements of ‘always on’ connectivity. With this in mind, we are aiming for a centralised platform as a digital ecosystem which makes the lives of Audi customers, employees and partners easier in the digitalised/connected world.
Networking means diversity and our models also interact with their surroundings in many different ways. Vehicle and driver are increasingly becoming direct receivers and also senders of information. All of which demands powerful mobile data connections which are developed in close collaboration with mobile communication and software providers.
Wholly in tune with the ‘Internet of Things’, Audi now has its various Audi connect services as a symbol of the digitalisation of our vehicles. As an innovative extension to the Audi MMI (Multi Media Interface) operating concept, Audi connect is an infotainment package which includes all the networking applications and developments of an Audi. Turning our vehicles themselves into smart devices. These services support navigation with Google Earth and Street View, various remote functions and thei connect vehicle security & convenience function. In this respect, car-to-x communications is an important pillar of Audi connect. Ultimately, the interaction of vehicles with their surroundings provides up-to-the-minute information on traffic, weather or destination. Owners of electric cars receive, for instance, information on the battery charge state or range through specific connect e-tron services and the Audi MMI connect app. At the same time a special experiential world also emerges, courtesy of integrated communications applications such as Facebook and other infotainment functions with high-resolution, captivating displays. All of which increases comfort, convenience, safety and efficiency of the Audi vehicles during the journey and turns our vehicles into a digital living space on wheels.
People. Employees. Audi employees
IT combines many areas in the company – and the people at Audi involved in this area are just as diverse. Their aim is to develop innovative, secure online services for the vehicle in close collaboration with other Audi divisions and external partners. Through close collaboration and company-wide networking, IT is an Audi core competence which is continually being expanded – both to improve our processes in today’s dynamic digital world and to transform the vehicle further into a smart device. In future, we will hire even more experts that will accompany us on this journey. In addition to IT specialists, electrical or mechatronics engineers, we are primarily looking for people fascinated by topics such as big data, function architecture, cloud, and data analytics, and who are also filled with enthusiasm for the dynamism of the car industry.
As our vehicles offer increasing digital connectivity, so the issue of IT security becomes more important. After all, protecting personal data, property and privacy is an integral part of automotive IT at Audi. In this way, specialists in IT security and data security will also strengthen our team in future.
A look into the future
Tomorrow’s Audi connect services will take the intelligent networking of cars to a wholly new level. The basis for this digital transformation will be a uniform platform – in the form of myAudi it will provide global easy access to the digital Audi world. In this way, the aim is to install Audi connect as standard – making vehicles even more secure, comfortable, convenient and efficient in future. Rapid data transfer, greater integration of everyday digital objects and flexible functions are required and will therefore determine our specialists’ daily work schedule at Audi in future. At the same time they will also form the basis for many other Audi future topics such as swarm intelligence or piloted driving. This also means that the Audi models, as an integral part of the digital environment, will also need to be tailored individually and dynamically to ever changing requirements.
As such, IT entails far more than the single word conveys. In the vehicle itself but also as part of the daily work of Audi employees and in the company’s business processes and systems, IT plays an important role – efficiency and cost reduction are just two examples of what the future holds in this respect. The Audi services for customers such as sales technologies in the Audi Cities or on the Audi website, which do not relate directly to the vehicle, would not be viable without IT services and the employees in Audi IT.
Virtually every single car that rolls off the assembly line is one of a kind. And our customers will become even more individually demanding in future. The upshot will be an enormous range of variants requiring flexible production processes more than ever. And that is precisely why we are embracing the digital trans-formation. Faster, more efficient, more sustainable – that is how Audi production will be in future. It’s what we call the “Smart Factory”.
The Smart Factory entails organising huge amounts of data so that people, plant and machinery, and products are perfectly networked with each other and com-municate in real time. After all, if we record and analyse data live from all operational areas, we can optimally coordinate our processes – and do so across operations and production sites. Making us more efficient and more competitive on a sustained basis.
People. Employees. Audi employees.
For all the technical progress, Audi production will still rely on people in future. And more so than ever. We will increasingly need highly qualified employees that are willing to embrace life-long learning. Employees, for instance, that are working side by side with intelligent, fenceless robots in production. The robot colleagues support and assist our employees; and they carry out physically strenuous work. After all, one thing is very important to us: people and robots are not competing for work, they complement each other with their individual strengths. This human-robot partner-ship creates substantial added value.
Knowledge from interface areas is becoming increasingly important to us, such as between electronics, IT and mechanics. Big data and agile project work will be part and parcel of the daily routine of future production employees and engineers. Soft-ware experts, data scientists and network architects will be an important part of to-morrow’s Audi team. Programming codes will soon become the all-important foreign language in our production.
A look into the future
For us, one thing is absolutely clear: car production, as we know it today, will soon no longer exist. Production may soon even dispense entirely with the production line: our vision consists of smart, fully networked production islands, which the Audi bodies automatically head for one after the other – after all, flexible production pro-cesses are what the car industry needs. At present we are collaborating with the best creative minds to come up with suitable solutions. Groundbreaking solutions that allow us to respond to volume fluctuations and model changes more flexibly. In this way we are continually driving forward the digital transformation and shaping the Smart Factory – the Audi production of the future.
Yet piloted driving has now become one of the key technologies of the future – and Audi has been working for several years to turn this vision into reality on the road. The benefits of self-driving cars are clear: more safety, convenience, time and efficiency.
Bobby, Jack, Robby – nothing symbolises the success that Audi has achieved so far in terms of piloted driving more than the names of our three test vehicles. Over the past few years, Audi has tested the technology on them under ever-changing and increasingly tough conditions, and with improved systems. Several tests have already been carried out in everyday traffic on German autobahns too, primarily on the “Digital Motorway Test Bed” on the A9 between Munich and Nuremberg. The pioneering technology is based on various assistance systems such as adaptive cruise control (ACC) including traffic jam assist, predictive efficiency assistant and park assist. They are already available as options on a number of production models today and ease the driver’s workload periodically under certain conditions. However, the driver must also remain alert.
In accordance with the official international classification, which defines a total of five automation levels, assistance functions currently available on the market are level one and level two systems: partially automated driving with longitudinal and/or lateral control. Various radar and ultrasonic sensors and cameras deliver the necessary information from the car’s surroundings and are already highly networked. The further development of these, together with the integration of new technologies such as laser scanners and central sensor data fusion, are the basis for the next step towards highly automated driving. In addition, it is essential for vehicles to be connected with each other, enabling so-called swarm intelligence.
People. Employees. The Audi team
The quest for self-driving vehicles with the ability to learn means venturing off the beaten track and focusing on the dynamic digital environment at all times. This has become a motto for the working day of Audi employees involved in piloted driving technology. Close cooperation between many different departments is required, as the technology can only develop and thrive with the expertise of experts from diverse fields. Specialists in robotics and machine learning, electrical engineers, software developers and information scientists – they all play their part in making sure that highly connected and fully automated vehicles become a permanent feature of everyday life before too long.
Audi is seeking to expand the team in the future and is looking for specialists who are familiar with digitalisation in all its facets: networking, security, legal parameters – these are all of significance in the field of piloted driving.
A glance into the future
In the future, we will ensure that our customers continue to experience the pleasure of active driving. At the same time, we would like to provide assistance and ease the pressure on the driver by enabling the vehicle to take over the driving in certain situations. To make this possible, we use data from ultramodern sensors, the latest version of which are fitted on “Jack”, the current test vehicle. For future piloted Audi production vehicles, various pieces of information from radar and ultrasonic sensors, cameras and laser scanners will come together in a super brain, the zFAS (central driver assistance controller). This is where all the data is evaluated and compared at lightning speed to calculate a model of the surroundings that reflects the current situation. This is then transmitted to the connected systems. The new generation of the Audi A8 will already offer customers the first highly automated driving functions, with piloted driving in traffic jams and in stop-and-go traffic. In addition, Audi plans to connect future piloted cars to the cloud via a powerful high-speed data link, which will then be able to continuously learn from every situation. The HERE platform, acquired by Audi in 2015 in conjunction with BMW and Daimler, is an important basis for this.
Our goal is to develop an eco-system that will open up a new dimension of customer centricity and vehicle context awareness. Audi vehicles will know their occupants and provide them with relevant information from outside the car. The vehicle will become a direct interface with our customers and we will customise our product around the globe. This will enable us to create completely new business models. The result will be a fascinating end-to-end customer experience.