The car of the future will become our intelligent assistant: it will prepare the journey for us, support us and understand what we want. The experts at Volkswagen Electronics Development are working hard to make this goal a reality. Part 4 of our series on user experience trends.
When Stephanie leaves the house, her personal companion is already waiting for her in the car. He has preheated the vehicle to a pleasant temperature. In a moment, he will offer her a massage, guide her through the traffic, or start Stephanie’s favorite TV series at the point of her finger. In short, he will prepare for Stephanie, support her and understand her needs. At Volkswagen’s Electronics Development, experts are working on turning our cars into just such companions with the help of artificial intelligence. Today, Stephanie is only a fictitious test person helping the specialists with their work. In just a few years, though, customers like Stephanie will become a reality. This dossier will show you how the user experience in the vehicles of tomorrow might look.
Your car prepares for you
Your car prepares for you
Kord Lühr is the expert in the Electronics Development team for providing the right temperature at the right time. “We teach the car to get to know its driver’s habits better and better,” he says. The idea is that virtually everyone follows recurring routines. “Such sequences can be recognized as patterns by artificial intelligence, which can respond accordingly,” Lühr explains. This means that the personal assistant can already prepare the car in an optimally pleasant way for the driver even before the journey begins. For example, if it is cold outside, the vehicle of the future could remind Stephanie to turn on the auxiliary heating in good time, something she might forget to do in the hectic bustle of everyday life.
When Stephanie is sitting in the vehicle, she can easily access her e-mails, her social media accounts, or Volkswagen We functions. Her seat, the exterior mirror and the infotainment system have also been customized to her needs. All this is possible because the car recognized Stephanie as soon as she got in, on the basis of biometric factors. Artificial intelligence has also already calculated the probable routes in advance – based on earlier drives she has made, among other things. “If Stephanie wants it to, her personal assistant will understand her behavior better and better over time,” says expert Kathrin Wilkens. The advantage of this is that the user only has to confirm her destination and the car sets off immediately. It is important to the developers that customers remain in control of their data at all times. What they do not want to reveal is not evaluated by the personal assistant.
Your car supports you
If Stephanie has slept badly, her future companion could notice this on the basis of the health data on her smartwatch. “We are working on ensuring that future vehicles will adapt optimally to people’s moods and physical states,” says developer Melisa Erdogan. If the user consents, the personal assistant could, for example, start an energizing program in which the user’s favorite music is played while a massage function in the seat is started. In addition, bright yet pleasant lighting would noticeably boost the driver’s wakefulness.
What sounds like wellness could become reality with autonomous driving: while people will be able to intervene at any time of course, they can also leave the driving to the vehicle. This opens up a multitude of possibilities. According to Melisa Erdogan, one example would be watching movies during the ride. “We’re already testing how streaming portals could be integrated into our cars of the future,” says the developer.
If, on the other hand, a person has control of the steering wheel, information can given by the navigation system to guide him or her through traffic in the best possible way. “Our goal is to coordinate the car’s different signals with one another in an optimal way. They should harmonize like members of a good band,” says expert Jürgen Stietz.
Your car understands you
Astrid Kassner is one of the development’s team experts for voice and gesture control. Her goal: ensuring that vehicles of the future understand what is meant when even just a finger is pointed – and then carry out the request. This will be particularly important when people no longer have to worry about steering, says Kassner, explaining: “We will be leaning back in our seats and no longer able to reach the cockpit with our arms. That’s why we are developing voice commands and gestures to complement touch operation via the display.”
However, future vehicles should not only understand our speech and gestures but also give us the right tips at the right time. This is what developer Stefan Henze is working on. For example, if the car gets into heavy traffic, it could recommend that the human driver activate Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), which automatically keeps the correct distance from the car in front. “What makes it special is that the car can offer ACC precisely at the moment the driver actually needs the function,” says Stefan Henze. If needed, the car can explain to the person what is meant by ACC. If the customer is interested, he or she can then activate this function with a voice command.
The car of tomorrow
“The vehicle of the future will be significantly more intelligent and more personalized than today’s vehicles,” says Henze. Automated driving increases the infotainment possibilities. In addition, technologies such as augmented reality will contribute to turning the drive itself into an experience. In general, the developer says, more and more functions that are familiar to us from our homes will be integrated into the car. According to Stefan Henze, “The vehicle is increasingly becoming our living space.”
Working at Electronics Development
Volkswagen Electronics Development mainly offers opportunities for electrical engineers, computer scientists, natural scientists, psychologists (human-machine interface), mathematicians and software developers.
Desirable hard skills:
- IT expertise: networking technology, server technology, object-oriented programming languages such as C++, JAVA, software development for embedded systems, ideally in the automotive field
- Knowledge of tool-based modeling of software architectures in UML and of the application of design patterns
- Knowledge of English
Desirable soft skills:
- Communication skills and ability to work in a team
- Positive attitude toward flexible working conditions
- High level of initiative
- Strong analytical skills
Link to the jobs board (Available in German only)