The car of the future? Smart
Digitalisation is truly shaking up the car industry. What this means for companies such as Audi, how versatile the car of the future will be, and the secrets to its success are discussed by Audi strategist Anne Maier and Jens Lehmann from the Fraunhofer Institute.
How smart is my car?
Every car driver has been in a position to ask could be asking themselves that question since big data and artificial intelligence have found their way into the car industry. In transforming itself into the digital car company, Audi has been working on numerous ideas that make life simpler for us, while also making driving a car safer. Jens Lehmann, Lead Scientist at the Fraunhofer Institute for Intelligent Analysis and Information Systems (IAIS), and Anne Maier, in charge of data strategy and analytics at Audi, discuss how versatile the car of the future will be. From an office on wheels to a mobile weather station, there is no end to no limits are placed on creativity.
The data revolution
Sensors in objects and machines can already generate immense amounts of data in real time. You refer to a data revolution. How can I best understand that?
Jens Lehmann: One cornerstone of the data revolution is that we can gather more and increasingly complex data at low cost, and make it available for analytics. As a result, we can change and automate decision-making processes and services within the company.
What influence is the data revolution having on the car industry?
Anne Maier: The car industry is being turned on its head. As well as In addition to just building cars, we need to gain a foothold in a second area: new digital offerings. But digital business is much more fragmented, with a large number of different clients and application areas. When we sell a car, we sell just once specimen at any given time. When we talk of data, it can be used multiple times at any one moment. That presents a different challenge, but is also an opportunity for us.
Jens Lehmann: In the medium term, the relative importance of the software in a car compared with the hardware will rise. Those companies that are experts at data analysis will enjoy major competitive advantages.
myAudi – access to the digital Audi world
What new solutions, services or business models do you already have in mind?
Anne Maier: One of the most important keywords in our sales operations and for Audi as a whole is myAudi – our access portal to the digital Audi world that integrates all apps and digital services. On this platform, customers will find various Audi connect offerings, detailed information about the vehicle and or service functions such as maintenance information and as well as the online owner’s manual. And our colleagues are working very hard to broaden this range.
Jens Lehmann: If autonomous driving becomes the norm, the drivers will have more time at their disposal. They can use their car as an office or pass enjoy their free time enjoying with the many different communications and entertainment offeringsoptions. The car will become a kind of smartphone on wheels. The successful formulas recipe for success will ultimately be those where carmakers have entered into forming the right partnerships.
What partnerships are already in place – and what kinds are conceivable?
Anne Maier: Audi recently found a very important partner specifically with regard to piloted driving, Audi recently found a very important partner. Together with Daimler and BMW, we have acquired the map provider here in order to develop a shared data platform. It combines high-resolution maps with location-based real-time information drawn from actual traffic events – a basic condition of piloted driving and of other business models.
Jens Lehmann: One vision is of the car as weather station, for example. Cars have sensors that measure the precipitation rate in order to automatically adjust the speed of the windscreen wipers automatically. The data generated in this way could help to create a highly precise weather map across the whole of Germany. It could also prove useful in other industries, such as agriculture.
Will the customer still be able to trust Audi if other parties are accessing their data?
Anne Maier: We have spent more than a century working on upholding the physical integrity of our customers. Our brand philosophy dictates that we continue to do just that. Transparency towards the customer is among one of our top priorities.
The car of the future
The issue of unconscious bias was addressed during the Audi-internal “Responsibility Perspective” series of presentations. The presentations provide employees with an opportunity to engage in open dialog with scientists, representatives of NGOs and politicians on the subject of sustainability.