Urban mobility the key in facing the next automotive revolution - Audi
THE CITY and the car have been interacting for generations, but this latest phase of their evolution is different.
Ever-increasing urbanisation and the subsequent demand for development of cities is the catalyst needed to bridge both the greatest challenges and most creative solutions for a future of the automotive sector. What we face now is undoubtedly the next automotive revolution. And, it makes sense. The city is where human life is expected to take the most significant quantum leap. Associated with this is demand for technology that keeps (or even exceeds) the pace of how society will itself expect to be mobile.
According to McKinsey, Africa is urbanising faster than any other region – where cities are projected to gain an estimated 24 million more people each year until 2045. If the McKinsey numbers stack up, then it follows that as an automotive sector our own investment in technology and innovation must adapt at a faster pace to meet what will be changing mobility demands.
The most logical question is, how?
For Audi, this starts with the integration of the car and its environment, especially as physical car ownership is expected to decline over time. Critical to this is an appreciation that ownership is not necessarily an indication of slower mobility demand, but rather points to the need to drive progress around innovation in the mobility space. Our work through the Audi Urban Future Initiative is just such a case in point. The initiative is an internal, interdepartmental think tank dedicated to issues of urban mobility.
The city and the car have been interacting for generations, but this latest phase of their evolution is different. Instead of urban planners designing cities around the automobile, engineers and developers are now designing cars around the functionality of the city.
With this in mind, Audi has pushed ahead with co-operation agreements with Boston and Mexico City, where we are working in partnership with local government to explore how Audi innovation technologies can be applied in an urban environment to trigger maximum benefit for both residents and businesses.
In the Boston metropolitan area, Audi is testing the advantages of its new technologies for the city in two different pilot projects. In the transformation of the city centre, car-to-X technologies will improve the traffic flow; while at the same time – automated parking will contribute to creating more space for other modes of traffic. In addition to this, Audi is working with the real-estate developers to combine the benefits of automated parking and smart fleet management.
The third Audi Urban Partnership is a joint project in Santa Fe, one of the leading business districts in Mexico City. Here, Audi is working with the association of the business district to develop ways to end permanent traffic congestion.
All three projects profile the successes of our investment in technology and our ability to adapt to changing demands that will respond to the next automotive revolution.
This paradigm shift towards mobility that is compatible with the city will eventually make for an intelligent, sustainable and liveable city with zero emissions and networked traffic that flows easily. And at the heart of this new concept will be the individual, accessing mobility in the way most convenient to him or her, in harmony with the city, the environment and other road users.
As carmakers, we are privileged to be at the apex of this pivotal innovation moment, where digitalisation, sustainability and urbanisation come together for our next great leap forward.
Part of the newly defined future will be machine learning, where a computer, in our case the car operating system, learns from specific situations, and can later handle unforeseen events. The more miles it clocks, the better it becomes.
The trigger to a smart future mobility system is one that benefits all stakeholders. Trevor Hill is head of Audi South Africa.
Audi’s Trevor Hill believes in the integration of car and environment.