A brief overview of the cutting-edge centres in Potsdam, Belmont and Beijing, where interdisciplinary teams are working on new mobility concepts, putting the passenger experience at the heart of their research.
Volkswagen Group Future Centres play a key role in the digitalization strategies leading to the development of the mobility of tomorrow. These are three research centres, located in Potsdam (Germany), Belmont (California, USA) and Beijing (China), tasked with investigating the areas which will characterise and influence mobility in the years to come. Each location has been chosen for its strategic location within a country, in order to better understand the different requirements of the customers in specific geographic areas and to attract the best talents. An interdisciplinary team structured in an innovative manner works in each centre . The goal of the Future Centres is to “meld” the automobile and the digital world, creating useful innovation to benefit not just the customers, but the wider society and economy.
How do the teams work in the Future Centres?
The skills of the team members go beyond traditional product development, focusing in particular on the User Experience (UX): from the control interface to the operational logic, the design of the vehicle’s interior and the infotainment systems, to cite just a few. The synergy achieved with other Volkswagen research facilities – not just the Future Centres, but also the Group’s labs and other centres across Europe, the United States and Asia, totalling 39 sites – is particularly important in achieving the goal, in other words providing a key contribution to the Group’s transformation by going beyond “simple” mechanics and integrating it with the digital world and services.
The research carried out by the workforce of more than 2,000 experts focuses on artificial intelligence, networking, virtual reality, and mobility on demand. This approach guarantees a high level of agility for the implementation of the Group strategy.
Each project starts out from customers’ visions, in other words their expectations and requirements for what concerns the future mobility. When cars are able to drive themselves, their interiors and their information and entertainment systems will change radically.
Creativity and sharing to develop winning ideas
The three Future Centres are network connected, and they exchange information constantly and in real time, time differences permitting! Work is organised in a horizontal and pragmatic manner, with an open-space plan, co-working areas and transparent partitions aiming to stimulate creativity and cohesion. The work environment is much like a start-up: this aspect also helps to attract the best talents.
The perception of being in a futuristic location is evident as soon as you walk through the front door: various simulators are installed in the large hall, with virtual reality goggles. The many monitors and sensors present also allow researchers to directly test out new solutions. Poufs reminiscent of car seats peek out from between the desks, on the other hand.
Each Future Centre is an incubator for innovative ideas, but also a gathering place for the creativity and knowledge of the entire Volkswagen Group. While Future Centre California draws on influences from Silicon Valley and focuses on the best digital user experience, UX software and accessible mobility solutions, Future Centre Europe mainly works on the development of future mobility concepts based on self-driving automobiles like SEDRIC, as well as on the overall vehicle design. Future Centre Asia, meanwhile, works intensively on special design concepts for China and Asian markets.
Source: Volkswagen AG