In the Internet of the Rings: How Audi is connecting the car
Speech at the 5th carIT Congress “Future Mobility: Connected & Autonomous”
Prof. Rupert Stadler
Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG
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Ladies and gentlemen,
Just 20 years ago, a book was found that was actually intended as a science-fiction novel: “Paris in the 20th Century.” Jules Verne had written it 150 years ago. But the book disappeared for a long time.
In it, Verne prophesied a modern city full of skyscrapers. He imagined a worldwide connected system with the transmission of sound and images in real time. Today, we call that the Internet. And instead of the horses and carriages usual at that time, he imagined gas-powered carriages with pedals. Today, we call
this carriage the Audi A3 g-tron*. And we make the gas it needs with wind power. Mind you, Verne wrote the book 20 years before the automobile was invented. And he would surely have been a great engineer, because he was fascinated by the technical ideas of his time. And he combined that interest with an inexhaustible imagination.
Just like him, we also like looking far into the future. We have just presented our latest e-tron.
The Audi e-tron quattro concept is being shown at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show: the first electric car with a range of more than 500 kilometers. A sporty SUV with excellent acceleration. And with organic LED displays and lights on board. A fully connected car with piloted-driving functions.
The future of mobility has begun. Let’s write the next future novel together. Think of Germany in the year 2030. You leave your office and a car comes to meet you. But there’s no-one in it. On the way home, you participate in a video conference. After that, you relax and close your eyes for a few minutes. You drive home without any traffic jams although more cars are on the road than ever. When you get home, you get out and feel relaxed. And your car drives off alone to park and recharge its batteries – inductively, without any cables! You place your shopping in a virtual shopping basket and pay online. Because your car picks up the food on its own at the supermarket’s loading ramp – all this is possible!
The automobile will always be the epitome of freedom. It allows us, self-determined and independent of timetables, to be individually mobile. That’s why the world market continues its growth unabatedly: From today’s 77 million to – in five years – 88 million new cars delivered each year. But our customers are online around the clock nowadays. “Always on” is part of their attitude to life. 50 percent of all Internet users in Germany access the web while on the move. And 80 percent of people under 30 want their car to be able
to do that as well. That’s why modern cars are connected. We say: “The car is getting bigger than the car.”
Thanks to digital possibilities, car driving has become safer and more convenient. In the past two decades, electrics and electronics have made a lot of progress. Just think of road maps; they used to be essential. Today, nearly every car has a navigation system. Just to present 25,000 square meters in as much detail as we do, a map publisher would need 2.5 tons of paper. Or think of innovations such as head-up displays, traffic-sign recognition, lane assistants or braking assistants.
In the next stage, the car will become part of the Internet of things. To achieve that, we and our suppliers in the German automotive industry will invest up to 18 billion euros in the next three years. But it will bring good news for all of us: The annoying search for a parking space will soon be a thing of the past. In a connected car world, we will drive much more efficiently than now. Electric cars will of course find charging stations by themselves. A multitude of assistance systems will be there to help us. And, cars will warn each other of danger. Just take the task of avoiding collisions. 90 percent of accidents happen because of human failure nowadays. What potential this offers! We have the opportunity to reduce accidents to 10 percent of current levels. Not by 10 percent, but to 10 percent! This would save the lives of 900,000 people every year. And worldwide, 36 million people would avoid being injured in a traffic accident.
Professor Wissmann recently and correctly called connectivity a quantum leap for the safety of all road users. Yes, that’s right: The German automotive industry, and we in particular as the brand with the promise of “Vorsprung durch Technik,” want to shape such a development from the driver’s seat.
IT companies are important partners at our side. But system control, access to safety-relevant systems in the car – from engine management to the accelerator to the brakes – will continue to be an exclusively automotive competence. We owe that to our customers. Because today, they expect more than just hardware. They expect new services and powerful car IT on board. There is hardly anything left in the car that we do not control electronically.
Next Monday, the world’s biggest light congress begins in Darmstadt. We will show our matrix-LED technology there. 50 individually controllable main-beam LEDs precisely adjust to the road. And they make use of anticipatory mapping data that provides information about the road ahead. The next step is organic LEDs, which are much more efficient, and are electronically controlled. Without car IT, there would be no innovation in lighting, drivetrains or assistance systems, hardly anywhere in the car in fact.
E-mobility also profits from connectivity: With an app, the charge status of a battery can be checked. The air conditioning can be switched on remotely before driving away, as long as the car is still connected to a charging station. This means that cooling or heating does not take place at the cost of range.
Connectivity increases the importance of information technology in cars. By 2020, half of automotive value added will be digital. By then, 25 percent of all cars worldwide will be online. Today, that proportion is about ten percent. And by 2025, there will be hardly any cars that are not online. 1.5 kilometers of cable and more than control units: An Audi is a rolling data center nowadays. Every hour, an Audi A3 processes about 25 gigabytes of data. All the A3 models that we will sell this year will process as much data in just six hours as the entire digital Vatican Library.
How strongly we are connected with the world of bits and bytes is shown by our pioneering role at the major trade fairs. I well remember our presentation five years ago as the first premium car manufacturer at the Consumer Electronics Show, the CES in Las Vegas. At first, we were rather skeptical about what would be waiting for us there between the desert and the casinos. But the gaming industry alone has total revenues of 100 billion dollars per annum. Consumer electronics is the toughest and most lucrative market for electronics. In 2011, we were the first premium car brand in the world to open the CES with our keynote. Since then, we have been a firm partner of this trade show. And when the first CES was held in Shanghai in 2015, we thrilled the Chinese audience with a master keynote about the future of driving.
That speaks for the magic that currently emanates from cars into the world of IT. All other car manufacturers have meanwhile followed us to the CES and other electronics trade fairs.
In the first stage, we brought information and entertainment into the car. That’s why some people call
an Audi a smartphone on four wheels. I prefer to call it the fastest and most powerful mobile device.
With traffic information online – real-time traffic-jam reports, with searches for special destinations – such as a list of current sights, with Google Street View – which eases orientation in the city, and with social networks and helpful information services.
In parallel, we are continually further developing the human-machine interface. Capacitive touchscreens with proximity sensors for example – no smartphone in the world offers that. The display recognizes when the user’s hand approaches and automatically switches into operating mode. And natural voice recognition allows the input of a navigation destination with a single sentence such as: “Navigate to the Congress Center Messe Frankfurt.” No more is required. We call it one-shot destination input.
In 2014, we launched the Audi virtual cockpit. It does without the usual combination instrument with analog speedometer and rev counter. Instead, the driver selects what he or she currently wants to see on the fully digital 12.3-inch display: Navigation or the classical instruments. All our latest models – whether Audi TT or R8, A4 or Q7 – already have this feature.
The next stages are gesture control, concave displays for new forms of interior design, and feel screens that give tangible feedback when touched. At the same time, we have interfaces to the common operating systems: Android Auto, Apple Carplay and Baidu CarLife in China. We integrate smartphones and important digital features into our cars very conveniently.
The crucial question for the connected car is: Will we allow the automobile to become just a monitor for the smartphone’s apps? That indeed is a power issue between the IT and automotive industries. In this context, we like to refer to a key strength of the car: With our sensors, it is developing senses. It has everything it needs on board to calculate a full model of its surroundings in real time. No computer and definitely no smartphone can do that at present. Only the piloted car has ultrasound sensors – as already used by the parking assistant, long-range radar sensors with a range of more than 250 meters, mid-range-radar that is already known from the lane assistant, four top-view video cameras around the car for 3D reconstruction, a laser scanner that supplies highly precise data on objects up to 80 meters away, and a front camera to recognize traffic signs.
This allows us to recognize everything: from traffic signs to traffic coming from the side in the driver’s blind spot and to dangerous situations of all kinds. And the new super brains of our assistance systems are as powerful as the entire electronic architecture of an average car of the recent past. Our credo is: When the sensors are in the car, the intelligence for navigation, assistance systems and piloted driving also has to be in the car. All from a single source. That’s also a question of safety.
And it’s about much more: It’s about our customers’ data. The car is as private as a second living room.
As a car manufacturer, we therefore have a clear position: First: The data from a car belongs to the customer. He or she alone decides what happens to it. Second: We advocate European data-security standards. And third: We place value on transparency concerning what happens to the data. That means: no secrecy or backdoors.
In the Internet of things, this is becoming increasingly important. When our car, our smartphone, our laptop, our bathroom scales, our toothbrush, our sleep-phase alarm clock, our blood-pressure gauge and our sports shirt are all connected, either the dream of “anywhere, anytime, anyhow” is realized, or our lives become a nightmare of “Big Brother is watching you.” So there is no alternative to privacy. Let’s not take any shortcuts, ladies and gentlemen!
I will predict another trend: The days of the mobile telephone are numbered. When 50 billion objects are connected all over the world, which will be the case by the year 2020, then all kinds of digital devices will have telephone capabilities. Not only our car or our watch, perhaps also our spectacles or our tie. Ralph Lauren has just launched a wearable device in the form of a sports shirt. It measures important bodily functions and send them to an app. The question is justified: With so many intelligent devices – won’t the concept of the smartphone be obsolete at some point?
These are all arguments for the intelligent car of tomorrow as one of the useful digital devices for everyday use. For us, an important step in this direction was that we separated the two development cycles from each other. A car has a product lifecycle of six to eight years. An “Apple” for example is fresh for just one season. With IT, the fans are used to innovations every year. New processors regularly give rise to new possibilities.
Within one car-model generation, we continually integrate new processor generations – thanks to the modular infotainment platform. We have just received the Golden Computer award. It takes its place next to all the relevant national and international prizes for the best connected automobile. Speed is of the essence. That applies to all of us here in this room. We need speed along the entire value chain.
The requirements become much more complex as soon as we go beyond entertainment and information. At the latest with regard to car-to-X, the simple connection between car and smartphone is no longer enough. We are connecting the car with other cars, with the Audi service station, with the traffic infrastructure.
The car driver of the future might not want to be a machine operator who monitors the technology.
Who enjoys watching a warning light flashing. The workshop could take over that task and then suggest when a part should be replaced. Early enough to avoid further damage. Software updates can take place remotely of course.
But this is a matter of safety-relevant processes that are important for the control of the car. That brings
a changed vehicle architecture. And it requires a powerful, secure backend. It no longer has anything to do with a “smartphone on four wheels.”
You know that we are currently securing our access to the world’s best mapping material. Cars will supply important swarm intelligence for it. This means that online traffic will continue to rise exponentially.
So we will need faster networks. That’s why the work on the fifth mobile-telephony standard is important. “5G” is a precondition for swarm intelligence in real time. When we brought our sales personnel to market-launch training courses in the past, it was all about new engines and transmissions. Today, 90 percent of our training courses are concerned with the new assistance systems.
The first generation of assistance systems was passive. Think of cruise control, which maintains a constant speed. That’s practical, because you can take your foot off the accelerator. But when there is an obstacle in your way, it is also rather inconvenient. That’s why the second generation of assistants is active. Sensors recognize situations, support the human awareness system and react to these situations. The third generation of digital helpers in the car is also predictive. What’s over the next hilltop? Where might a traffic jam occur in half an hour? Which alternative route is the best?
This is where the artificial intelligence of the connected assistants comes into play. We use information that the driver cannot yet have. Predictive assistance systems offer maximum benefits. Because a car that drives with foresight consumes significantly less fuel than even our current ultra models: Easing off the accelerator to make use of momentum and remain within the speed limit. Driving in heavy urban traffic only as fast as necessary to advantage from the “green wave.”
The new Audi A4, which can be seen here at the Frankfurt Motor Show until Sunday, shows how far our digital helpers on board have already progressed. The A4 protects you from oncoming traffic when turning left. It takes evasive action in critical situations. It warns the driver when he or she is reversing and a car approaches from the side. It helps with parking the car. And it makes sure that no passenger overlooks a car driving past while getting out. All of this makes driving quite a lot safer.
If one combines all of today’s assistance systems, one gains an impression of piloted driving in the future. The required technology would have filled an entire car trunk five years ago. Today, our central control unit, the zFAS, is as small as a tablet computer. We are the first brand to realize the management of assistance systems in a central domain architecture: with the mobile processor EyeQ3 and the Tegra K1 from nVidia. This is where the decisions are made for all assistants.
We have a long track record for piloted driving: In 2009, a piloted TTS drove the Audi Rings on the salt flats in Utah. One year later, it drove 156 curves of the legendary rally route up to the top of Pikes Peak in the Rocky Mountains. In 2012, we were the world’s first car manufacturer to receive a test license for public roads in California and Nevada. In 2014, our RS7 piloted driving concept lapped the Grand Prix circuit in Hockenheim at the physical limits. This January, we drove 900 kilometers on the highway to Las Vegas. In April, Federal Transport Minister Dobrindt experienced the technology in person on the autobahn. In May, we dared the ultimate test in the dense downtown traffic of Shanghai. And in July, we lapped the Sonoma Raceway in California faster than any racing driver.
In a word: Our technology is ready for series production. In 2017, the new Audi A8 will drive in traffic jams in piloted mode. In 2018, we will launch our electric SUV with the same technology. Piloted driving and parking are currently the highest level of digital complexity. The backbone consists of environment recognition with numerous sensors, a decision maker that triggers the actions, curve planning that plans the car’s optimal path, drivetrain and steering technology that we control electronically, and a human-machine interface as the operating concept.
Why do we want to persuade drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel? Actually, we want to achieve just the opposite: that our customers enjoy driving so much that they don’t want to let go of the steering wheel any more. The great potential of piloted driving is in situations in which we are either distracted, overstretched or understretched – and that’s also dangerous, because it’s tiring. If the driver wants to drive, he or she will be able to do so. If the driver wants to let go, he or she will receive support.
In 50 years, people might ask: Why did they touch the steering wheel at all? Insurance companies will offer cheaper rates for cars with piloted driving. It will be a luxury and a rarity to drive oneself.
But let’s think further: If all the cars on the roads are connected, we no longer need traffic lights. The cars filtering into a crossroads will look as harmonious as a ballet performance. We will no longer need valuable space in city centers for parking garages: Our cars will take us into the city and then drive alone to parking garages out of the center.
In the end, the car will become a time-saving machine. Thanks to big data and swarm intelligence, we will use our resources much more efficiently in the future. The German automotive industry will not leave this key technology to Silicon Valley. But, in the United States, everything that is not expressly prohibited is allowed, whereas here, everything that is not expressly allowed is prohibited. We need innovation-friendly framework conditions. And, let’s take the consumers with us on this journey. Because a more important point than what is technically possible is the question of what one group wants: the customers.
Jürgen De Graeve
Tel.: +49 841 89 34084
Fuel consumption of the models named above:
Audi A3 Sportback g-tron:
CNG consumption in kg/100 kilometer: 3.6 – 3.3;
Combined fuel consumption in l/100 km: 5.5 – 5.1;
Combined CO2 emissions in g/km (CNG): 98 – 89;
Combined CO2 emissions in g/km (gasoline): 128 – 117
(Values vary depending on engine/transmission/wheels/tires.)