“In 2017 we will have the first totally self-driving cars, able to reach 100 km per hour”. Sandra Weber, Head of Connected Car Audi, together with another “mind mover”, Stefano Giovannoni, outlined the nearby future, with a high technological content, during the meeting “From design to technology on board: connectivity and infotainment”, presided over as a moderator by journalist Maurizio Melis.
In Giovannoni’s opinion, “the self-driving car of the future will introduce a new way of conceiving driving space / time and the cabin will turn into a sort of room, with windows that may become video screens you can watch to relax or receive messages and information. Hence the fundamental role of design for a safe and pleasant integration with technology. From a concept point of view, if in the past 10 to 15 years miniaturization was the main objective of innovation, today a technological leap is required in new batteries as well as the ability of managing and even sharing energy”.
“We are working in several fields”, underlined Sandra Weber, “with a view to making cars enter into the digital ecosystem, in order to improve the environment around the driver and guarantee maximum safety in the cabin. We will have more and more integration between Man and the cabin, the driver and digital instruments. The virtual world will fiercely invade car interiors: less buttons and more screen displays. The new Audi TT, for instance, has a virtual cockpit.
It is not therefore just a question of integrating smartphone functionalities into cars, but of working on the idea of smart vehicles, with navigation services provided in a cyber security environment. People, animal and object recognition laser and infrared systems will automatically enable the driver to avoid obstacles; but that’s not all, connection technologies will directly enable the car to signal dangers to the surrounding vehicles as well as receive and send information about traffic conditions in real time”.
This requires a city equipped with smart facilities able to communicate with cars, within a true network; but, unfortunately, the speed of technological innovation doesn’t always match that of the urban digital development, pointed out Giovannoni, who considers cities – close to collapse – as the true test-bed of smart cars.
If looking for a place to park is the main reason for urban traffic generation, the smart cars of the future will reduce traffic since they will be able to signal where there are free places available to park. Furthermore, also the car sharing practice, which is becoming increasingly popular in towns, will be radically changed: cars will find customers and not vice versa.
Text by Katrin Cosseta – photos by Efrem Raimondi