Urban mo­bil­ity the key in fac­ing the next au­to­mo­tive revo­lu­tion - Audi

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - Trevor Hill

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.

PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Audi’s Trevor Hill be­lieves in the in­te­gra­tion of car and en­vi­ron­ment.

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