IAA symposium with State Secretary Bomba
“The entire commercial vehicle industry is undergoing a ‘digital transformation’ – the commercial vehicles of the future will be connected, and automated driving will soon be reality. Modern IT and the mobile Internet will have a lasting impact on the development of mobility. The digital experience and vehicle connectivity are becoming more important aspects of mobility. Commercial vehicles are shifting from their classical role as transporters of goods, to real transporters of innovation,” stressed Matthias Wissmann, President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA). He was delivering a keynote address at the IAA symposium “Commercial vehicles as an innovation platform for networking and automation” to 270 high-ranking guests including Rainer Bomba, State Secretary in the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure.
The potentials offered by automated driving, connectivity and new mobility concepts were to be found above all, Wissmann continued, in improving transport efficiency and road safety – while simultaneously reducing emissions. In addition, Germany would be strengthened as a location for innovation and business. The VDA president pointed out that for several years the automotive industry has already been working on the development and introduction of systems for automated driving: “For us that is a major factor for international competitiveness,” Wissmann said.
To exploit the potential of automated driving, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure has convened the “Automated Driving Round Table.” It has brought a wide range of stakeholders together to elaborate a strategy paper on automated and connected driving. In September 2015 the German Government published its strategy for introducing connected and automated driving.
Wissmann drew attention to the fact that driverless vehicles would not be in the showrooms in the near future. Not everything that appears technically feasible to some people was actually ready for the market: “The German automotive industry is pursuing an evolutionary approach to automated driving functions used by customers, from partial and then high automation all the way to full automation. Automated functions will continue to be developed step-by-step based on established driver assistance functions. Their installation and their applications will increase step-by-step in new vehicles. So road users and vehicle users will be familiarized with automation step-by-step, and they will discover the benefits of these functions and accept their help more and more.
On the path to higher levels of automation, Wissmann added, some technological challenges still had to be clarified. This was because a vehicle in automated driving mode will have to know precise details of its environment, which will depend crucially on things such as sensor systems for determining the vehicle’s position in its surroundings.
“One important prerequisite for marketing automated driving systems will be reliable legal conditions,” Wissmann emphasized, and mentioned the UNECE regulations and road traffic law.
He went on to say that connectivity was another hugely dynamic trend, adding: “The potential is enormous, because connectivity also changes our understanding of mobility. In the future, intelligent connectivity and digitization both in the vehicle and outside it will play an ever more important role in mobility. The main objective is to make road traffic even safer and more efficient.” The difficulty was to do so in the face of the rising volume of traffic, since given today’s road capacities the increasing traffic density represented a worldwide challenge.
Connectivity could be used to collect traffic information within fractions of a second and use it in traffic guidance systems. The currently tedious search for a parking space could also be minimized with the help of connectivity. “That will save time, money and emissions,” Wissmann said.
Platooning was of special interest to the commercial vehicle industry, Wissmann stated. This involves several electronically connected vehicles driving one behind the other in a convoy, with the second and third trucks following the vehicle in front at a short distance. “That reduces consumption, and therefore emissions – and is also safer,” the VDA President explained.
He also spoke about data protection: “Reliability, security, availability, confidentiality and integrity are our guides when it comes to safety in the vehicle and security of customer data,” Wissmann said.
The speakers at the symposium also included experts from McKinsey, Schenker and DLR. Keynote presentations were given by representatives of MAN, Krone, Here, ZF, Continental and Bosch.