The way we get from A to B will change radically over the next few years. Alternative drive systems will play an important part in that, but so too will other innovative technologies that enable automatic and autonomous driving. A transformation which goes hand in hand with the development of urban areas.
Digitalisation, Big Data and networking
These are three key concepts of the 21st century. But their development is not even close to the finishing line: in the next few years, these trends will continue to grow, especially in large urban areas. Urban planning and transport networks are part of this overall concept, which embodies the contemporary meaning of mobility. And concept cars like e-tron quattro and e-tron Sportback are already providing an insight into the new generation of Audi models: vehicles which will broaden their scope, going beyond being a mere means of getting from A to B. They will become mobile devices, capable of assisting their drivers with a variety of systems while they are on the move. The aim is to develop this technology to relieve drivers of more and more responsibility while driving and become reliable enough to bring that into series production.
The importance of... dialogue
Making this happen requires vehicles to have complex electronic components that can collect and evaluate data and derive actions from it. Cameras, sensors and the central control unit (zFas) are constantly talking to each other. The data they collect is processed and shown to drivers and passengers using infotainment components. This real-time communication model is being extended in tomorrow’s mobility so that not only vehicles and passengers communicate with each other, but vehicles and their surroundings, vehicles with vehicles – and even vehicles with their urban environments. This may seem a long way off, but there are several projects already dealing with the various disciplines involved which will, in the more distant future, be brought together as one.
Some of these analyse how to “prepare” the roads for the advent of electric mobility: a particularly interesting technology is wireless charging, currently designed for static charging in a fixed location, but which could become dynamic in the future, integrating the necessary components along some sections of roads to allow charging while on the move.
Mobility and smart cities
In the USA, Audi is actively involved in the urban planning of Somerville, near Boston, together with the city authorities and local property developers. The project is about the intelligent introduction of technologies and services in an integrated mobility system. Communication between vehicles and infrastructures (Car-to-X) enables traffic flows to be improved, while piloted parking can reduce the space needed for each individual car. Experts like Carlo Ratti – Director of the Senseable City Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – strongly believe that these types of technologies can drastically reduce not only traffic congestion, but also, and foremost, accidents.
According to Ratti, smart cities are the manifestation of a broader technological trend, which results in the Internet of Things – that is a network of devices, vehicles, home appliances and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity which enable them to connect and exchange data. As a result, many aspects of urban life are being rapidly transformed: From energy to waste management, from mobility to water distribution, from city planning to citizen engagement.
But which is the view of the renowned architect think on mobility? “Electric vehicles could play a crucial role in terms of energy source, as they can be run on renewables and make our transportation systems more sustainable. But I think that the biggest transformations will happen with autonomous vehicles, which will transform the meaning of mobility itself, blurring the distinction between private and public modes of transportation” Ratti continues. “In any case, the adoption of shared mobility solutions will depend on the cultural change, in particular on the role of the automobile as a status symbol”.
Source: AUDI AG