Futuristic cars roll through the streets as highly intelligent and connected vehicles. They navigate autonomously through unfamiliar cities, book parking spaces, recognise risky situations and react independently. For Martin Deinhard, this is not merely a vision for the distant future. With his team, the Head of Development for Audi connect Infotainment and Apps is working flat out on implementing digital solutions and the intelligent use of swarm data.
Mr Deinhard, you and your department at Audi are focused intensely on the digital revolution. New apps and online services are continuously being introduced in the market. How quickly can the latest developments actually be introduced into series production?
That is one of the biggest challenges for us. In the series development of a car, we have comparatively long development cycles and also have to ensure that our services can also be operated safely while driving. To quickly make new digital services available in the car, we design our electronic architecture to be extremely flexible, since many customers today are online around the clock and want to be able to use their digital habitat in the car as well. With our modular concepts, we are able to keep up with the fast-paced world of consumer electronics and offer new services in our cars within a few months.
And how will a major company group meet this demand?
In the app development for which I’m responsible, we are close to the customer and to digital development. We leverage the potential that this produces and view ourselves as designers of smart solutions. So my team is interdisciplinary and diverse. In addition, we work together internationally with many start-ups and also integrate the good ideas of young developers.
How should we picture your team?
The colleagues come from a wide range of industries. We have physicists, electronics engineers and a lot of computer scientists working with us. Others have already gained experience in the business world, have founded start-ups, or bring a business administration background with them. We are growing very rapidly in the course of digitalization. We started two years ago with just a few people, but today the team is made up of more than 20 employees and is made up of many nationalities. My team is very young; the average age right now is 31.
It seems lately that the demand for apps is getting more selective. Customers are only using the ones that really offer them added value. What advantages do new digital services offer?
The services are getting more and more personalised and are tailored precisely to the customer. I can do a lot more than just play my favourite songs or listen to my radio stations. Apps also learn my tastes, so I get recommendations for other songs or stations that I didn’t know about – there is often some great stuff included here that sometimes even develops into a favourite band. One other example: Digital services seek out the next pizzeria for me in an unfamiliar city and know if there’s a free parking space nearby, which can soon be paid for without the use of cash.
Which digital trends will change our driving habits the most in coming years?
One important issue is the use of swarm data. Cars will then have not only the information in their immediate surroundings that their own sensors and cameras detect and process, they will also share this information through the cloud with other vehicles. As a result, we can offer new services in the first phase that make driving safer. In the long term, swarm data combined with machine learning components are essential prerequisites for self-driving cars. That is one of the most important trends we are pursuing.