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article imageVW speeds into car’s digital era

By Joe Duarte     Mar 10, 2014 in Technology
Hanover - The worlds of automobiles and wireless connectivity are quickly converging and the Volkswagen Group is poised to power full-steam ahead into what it calls the new digitalization era of the automobile.
“The two ground-breaking inventions — the automobile and the computer — are moving closer together,” said Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen, at the opening ceremony of CeBIT 2014 in Hanover, Germany. “We need to shape the mobility of the future in an even more intelligent, more networked way.”
CeBIT is the annual electronics trade show that is regarded as the world's largest and most international computer expo.
With dignitaries such as German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron looking on, Winterkorn declared that the expanding interaction of cars with their surroundings is a key subject for future intelligent mobility. He specifically pointed out automated driving as the center point of the networking expected between vehicles, roads and pedestrians.
To step towards that future, Winterkorn unveiled Audi’s James 2025 — a concept of the future vehicle cockpit. In the standalone display, physical changes to, the steering wheel, driver’s seat position and light accents change. As well, the instrument panel ahead of the steering wheel disappears and a screen pops up from the center stack to display the details of planned driving maneuvers, so all occupants can be aware of what is transpiring. Atop the dash, a larger touch screen continues to provide infotainment functions, which can also be navigated through motion sensing technology (so the driver doesn’t have to reach for the screen but simply moves his hands in sync with the screen displays).
“Our cars are already mobile computer centers, with 1.5 kilometers of cables, more than 50 control units and the computing power of 20 highly advanced PCs,” said Winterkorn. “Now we face the considerable challenge of making mobility even more intelligent and more networked together with the IT industry.”
“The IT industry … is rolling its technologies and products out to the customer in shorter and shorter cycles. These are topics that also call for intensive efforts in the automobile industry,” Winterkorn explained. “People's expectations of mobility are changing fundamentally and our customers' wishes for their own cars are changing faster and faster. The Volkswagen Group has recently launched a major new future-oriented initiative Future Tracks to find answers to the major challenges faced by our industry. Digitalization will play a key role in this process.”
To meet the challenge, Winterkorn announced investments of 3.8 billion Euros (about $5.3 billion U.S.) and 9,300 highly-qualified IT specialists. Winterkorn also cautioned that the automobile cannot become too technologically sophisticated.
“The car must not become a data monster. We already protect our customers against a wide variety of risks. With the same attention to our responsibilities, we intend to protect our customers against the abuse of their data,” he stated. “I clearly say ‘yes’ to Big Data, ‘yes’ to greater security and convenience, but ‘no’ to paternalism and Big Brother. We need a voluntary commitment by the automobile industry. The Volkswagen Group is ready to play its part.
"The automobile industry, the IT industry, business, scientists and politicians need to join forces,” he concluded. “The mobility of the future will be worthwhile for everyone concerned – especially for consumers, who will benefit from cars that are even safer, more comfortable and more intelligent.”
More about Automobiles, automated driving, Technology, connectivity, Volkswagen
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