"The two inventions of the century, the car and the
computer, are gradually converging. We need to design future mobility to be
even more intelligent and networked," noted Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn,
CEO of Volkswagen AG while speaking at the International Consumer Electronics
Show being held in Las Vegas, Nevada (US).
out that the automotive industry found itself in the midst of a historical
turning point at the beginning of the 21st century. “The car and the computer
were merging. Volkswagen, Europe's most successful car brand, has been
instrumental in driving this development. That is because the car – which
operates intuitively, is networked systematically, reacts intelligently and
offers significantly greater convenience – gives new innovative impetus to
mobile life, making it more communicative, safer and fascinating,” he said.
Volkswagen is demonstrating – with an entire fleet of
vehicles at the 2015 CES – just how much the car and computer are already
becoming intertwined today and will continue to grow together in the future.
The main focus is on four aspects--First, computer-driven drive systems, Second,
app and smartphone integration, Third, intuitive vehicle operation and Fourth,
autonomous and semi-autonomous driving.
computer-controlled drive systems
Electric mobility is coming into its own. Pure electric cars
and plug-in hybrid vehicles are continually increasing their presence. The high
production volume models have now arrived, and Volkswagen is setting the pace
with best-sellers like the Golf. Driven exclusively by electric motors (as in
the e-Golf), or by an alliance of a high-tech gasoline engine and electric
motor (as in the Golf GTE plug-in hybrid). The e-Golf and Golf GTE are the
protagonists of a new mobility. These cars would be inconceivable without
on-board electronics with computers that control such functions as battery
charging and, in the case of the hybrid models, switching between the different
drive sources. At CES, Volkswagen is showing, among other things, how electric
cars will be able to automatically dock to inductive charging stations and
output signals that indicate the battery charge state using the vehicle's
exterior lights. Everything computer-driven, of course.
Second – app and
It has now been eight
years, to the month, since Apple introduced its first generation iPhone in San
Francisco. Competitors followed, and the rest is history. The fact is that smartphones
have irreversibly changed the way people communicate and their everyday lives.
It has long been normal practice to have phones automatically connected to a
car's hands-free telephone system via Bluetooth and to have the smartphones
stream their media libraries into car infotainment and sound systems. But now
Volkswagen is taking a significant step forward. Last year, the second
generation "modular infotainment platform" (MIB II) was introduced.
Along with the new radio and radio-navigation systems, MirrorLink was also made
available for the first time; it is used to integrate the apps and operating
layout of numerous Android smartphones into cars (including Samsung, HTC, LG
and Sony). Later this year, the MIB II will be making its debut in the USA. At
the same time as MirrorLink is introduced, two other interfaces will also be
launched under the App Connect label: CarPlay (Apple) and Auto Android
(Google). This will result in app integration for the key operating systems.
App Connect will significantly expand the range of today's Volkswagen online
services. Just as it launches in the USA, CarPlay and Auto Android will also be
launched by Volkswagen on the European market.
Third – intuitive
In the future, the mobile computer, i.e. the car, will not
only merge with the mobile world; it will also integrate people into its
operating concept more ideally than ever. Here, Volkswagen is following a
consistent strategy of implementing user operation by touchscreen. Today, and
in the future, the car will be adapted more than ever to people by recognising
their movements – via control based on proximity sensors and gesture
recognition. Today, the latest infotainment systems by Volkswagen can already
detect the approach of a hand with proximity sensors. Thanks to proximity
sensors, the display automatically switches over from a purely informative
level to a more varied menu with optimally sized controls. In the next
revolutionary step – which Volkswagen is presenting in the Golf R Touch concept
vehicle at the 2015 CES – the infotainment unit will precisely detect hand
gestures via camera and understand them. Gesture control will make it possible
to control, in real space, displays and controls in virtual space without
having to touch a touchscreen. This benefits convenience and safety, because it
further reduces driver distractions while operating controls. At this point, it
is clear that the car and computer can no longer be viewed as separate from one
another. The car and computer are one.
Fourth – autonomous
and semi-autonomous driving
Clearly, cars of the future will need to be able to drive
certain route segments autonomously if necessary. Either fully autonomously or
semi-autonomously, and this will be introduced step by step. Even today, Park
Assist by Volkswagen enables semi-automated parking and exiting from parking
spaces. The car executes the entire steering process for the parking maneuver
fully independently. At CES, Volkswagen is now presenting another evolutionary
stage of Park Assist: Trained Parking. Here, the car scans a frequently driven
path to a parking space via camera, and from that point on it executes the path
semi-automatically by computer control. In another evolutionary stage, it will
be possible to have the car parked without the driver even needing to be
present in the vehicle. The driver would maintain control over the car via
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