Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, Volkswagen Group chairman of the board of management, expects the IT and motor industries to come closer together and for manufacturers to collect data about their drivers.
Winterkorn spoke at IT trade fair CeBIT in Hanover, Germany and said that while VW Group is in favour of ‘Big Data’ (collecting and analysing vast amounts of data on its drivers), he said the car of the future must not become a data monster.
Winterkorn said: “We already protect our customers against a wide variety of risks such as aquaplaning, micro-sleep and long, time-consuming congestion.
“With the same attention to our responsibilities, we intend to protect our customers against the abuse of their data. I clearly say yes to Big Data, yes to greater security and convenience, but no to paternalism and Big Brother.
“At this point, the entire industry is called upon. We need a voluntary commitment by the automobile industry. The Volkswagen Group is ready to play its part.”
Volkswagen presented its car cockpit of the future ‘James 2025’at the CeBIT show. This study developed by Volkswagen Group Research shows how VW’s automatic driving cars of the future will change the environment of the car’s cockpit when the car’s computer takes over driving of the vehicle. When automated driving is activated the steering wheel, seating position and light coding change, and a large central screen gives all the vehicle occupants details of any planned driving manoeuvres.
A second screen with touchpad operation on the console of the central tunnel provides additional infotainment functions.
Winterkorn said: “The two ground-breaking inventions, the automobile and the computer, are moving closer together.
“We need to shape the mobility of the future in an even more intelligent, more networked way.”
Winterkorn declared that the increasingly intensive networking of cars with their surroundings and automatic driving would be the key topics for the intelligent mobility of the future.
He said: “Information technology has been a key component of the automobile industry for some time.
“Our cars are already mobile computer centres, with 1.5 km of cables, more than 50 control units and the computing power of 20 highly advanced PCs. Now we face the considerable challenge of making mobility even more intelligent and more networked together with the IT industry.”
Winterkorn said the automotive industry must learn from the IT industry with shorter and shorter technology and product cycles.
He said: “People’s expectations of mobility are changing fundamentally. And our customers’ wishes for their own cars are changing faster and faster.
“This is why the Volkswagen Group has recently launched a major new future-oriented initiative Future Tracks. This initiative will bring the brightest people in our group together in order to find answers to the major challenges faced by our industry. Digitalisation will play a key role in this process.”
He said that the Volkswagen Group already employed 9.300 highly qualified IT specialists and was investing about £3.1 billion a year in information technology.