Written by IEEE | November 4, 2015 | Updated: April 3, 2017
Walking the floor of the Royal Dublin Society (RDS) arena where Web Summit is held, it’s hard not to notice the Audi kiosk, complete with a VR demo and a model of their RS7 prototype. Those who were interested in learning more about Audi’s intelligent transportation intentions were treated to a keynote from Sven Schuwirth, Audi’s Head of Brand Development and Digitalization at the Machine Stage.
Schuwirth delivered his keynote with a passionate emphasis on the future of the automotive industry, and the overarching impacts that intelligent transportation will have on life itself. The keynote started with the facts, pointing out plain and simple that autonomy is the future. Schuwirth shared that by 2030, it’s expected that the industry will be fully autonomous.
Audi and autonomy continue to become a natural association. The company’s first foray into the field was with a prototype called Shelley that they tested back in 2009. Shelley was later followed by James (Nevada) in 2012 and Bobby (Germany). Most recently, the automaker debuted Jack, an A7, at CES 2015. Jack was part of an A7 fleet that journeyed from from California to Nevada, fully autonomously, for the conference.
As tests continue on roads and racetracks, Audi is doing its due diligence to educate consumers on the many benefits of driverless cars, starting with safety. Like many other automakers, they champion the fact that cars continue to outperform drivers, with 90% of all accidents being human error.
In addition to sharing the safety benefits, Schuwirth went on to explain how an autonomous vehicle should be considered an attainable luxury. He used New York as an example to share how the broader transport industry – taxis, for example – could be revolutionized with safer rides and shorter wait times.
Schuwirth’s passion for autonomy was infectious — he skillfully likened the time saved from driverless innovation to a simple comfort, time that could instead be used to rest, communicate and consume media, or work. Ultimately, he reasoned that driverless cars will shape behavior, improving overall productivity as they continue to be implemented into our ecosystem of connected things.
Wrapping up his keynote with almost a meditative-like prose, Schuwirth left the audience with the a glimmer of hope. Hardcore auto enthusiast or not, we were left to wonder about the potential serenity of intelligent transportation, that extra hour of peaceful solitude where your car is your castle, and the roads are your kingdom.