Audi A8

The naked passenger

Two theses on the mobility of the future

At MQ! Innovation Summit by Audi, thought leaders of our time have concerned themselves with the mobility of our future. The result: five central theses on the mobility of the future – our authors will present two of them and reveal what is behind the "naked passenger".

Der Audi A8 auf der Straße
On the road towards the mobility of the future: the Audi A8 is the first car worldwide that was developed for highly-automated Level 3 driving. When driver and law allow for it, the Audi AI traffic jam pilot takes over the driving.

Who concerns himself with mobility, does not only deal with the following questions: bike or car? Combustion engine or electrical engine? Shared or Owned mobility? What the mobility of our future looks like is based on how we will live in the future. Carlo Ratti, Mo Gawdat und Fatima Bhutto have come up with three theses that we’ve introduced in a separate blog post.

First: flexibility is the new intelligence, because adapting quickly to new things has become a core competence. Second: the biggest nation on earth is the internet, because it connects a majority of 7,5 billion people across borders and religions. Third: if our cities became only a little more efficient, this would have global implications. In this blog post, we’re presenting the theses by Sacha Vrazic and Dirk Ahlborn.

#4: We’re overestimating autonomous driving in the short term and underestimating it in the long term.

“Children born today will no longer drive cars themselves,” says Sacha Vrazic, Director of Autonomous Driving at supplier, Rimac Automobili. This technology is the future of our mobility and it will change our lives massively.

However, the road there is lined with open questions and obstacles that have to be overcome. It starts with integration into today’s traffic – who adapts to whom? The city to the car or the car to the city? Another question to be addressed is how autonomous vehicles will interact with supposedly “normal” cars. Will some cars have right of way? That would be one possibility.

At the same time, adaptation of the technology to different markets is a challenge that would be hard to overstate. Traffic does not flow and stop around the world in quite such an orderly manner as it does in central Europe. Preparing even Level 3 functions like the Audi AI traffic jam pilot in the new A8 for traffic in Beijing or New Delhi is a huge task. And even Apple guru, Steve Wozniak, asks what the benefit of Level 3 and Level 4 actually is if you as the driver have to be prepared to take back control of the wheel.

Augmented Reality helps in delicate situations

The technical challenges are also quickly evident, as a requirement to resume control generally comes in a complex and not in a straightforward driving situation. So, what’s to stop a reaction time of one second turning into a reaction time of one minute? Augmented reality in windows could be the solution. The driver would receive a direct indication of where the danger is coming from and what must be done about it.

What’s missing most from the vision of the fully autonomous car is concrete data – spanning from map material to the way road users behave in specific situations. Virtual reality and machine learning could provide assistance in technical development. With their help, it would be possible to simulate an infinite number of driving situations from which the car could learn.

Head-up-Display in einem Audi
Ein Helfer für heikle Situationen: Head-up-Displays, die fahrrelevante Informationen auf dem Fenster anzeigen, könnten dem Fahrer helfen Gefahrsituationen früh zu erkennen und zu vermeiden.

Perfect for the city

Similarly positive changes can be expected in the areas of efficiency and sustainability. Shared mobility is one example, with autonomous cars potentially providing the right incentive. In city environments, in particularly, they are tailor made for intelligent traffic solutions. One possible side effect could be less regulation. If traffic flows better on its own, it needs fewer interventions from lights and signs.

So how does each one of us benefit from autonomous driving? We have more time, less stress and greater safety. In the long term, therefore, we shouldn’t underestimate autonomous driving. It will change our whole life.

Sacha Vrazic

He leads the development of autonomous driving for Croatian supplier Rimac Automobili. He is the author of many publications and is an expert in machine learning and artificial intelligence. As such, he works tirelessly for social change.


#5: The ‘naked passenger’ is the future of mobility

A smooth transition from one transport system to the next – with no wallet, no cell phone, no ticket. This vision of seamless transport is what Dirk Ahlborn, CEO of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, describes as the “naked passenger”.

The idea is not to use data for maximum transparency, but to make organizing the transition from one transport system to the next as smooth as possible. Right now, switching from one means of transport to another can sometimes take more time than the actual traveling itself.

More efficient mobility concepts

What’s called for is more efficient mobility concepts for society as a whole. Ahlborn proposes the Hyperloop, a magnetic monorail that moves through tubes with the help of a vacuum, connecting rural areas with the city in double-quick time.

For individual mobility, one solution could be autonomous vehicles that park on their own or are ready and waiting when you leave the house – such as the Audi Aicon concept vehicle.

Concept Car Audi Aicon Seitenansicht

The "naked passenger" is the future of mobility for Dirk Ahlborn, the CEO of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies. It will be possible to switch between transportation systems seamlessly. To enable this, autonomously driving cars such as the Audi Aicon that park on their own and drive up to the house are needed.

New monetization strategies

The absence of a ticket is an important aspect of this, as tickets have a negative effect on human mobility. Furthermore, many means of public transport financed via ticket sales are not profitable. Consequently, new monetization strategies are also part of more efficient mobility concepts.

What would it be like, for example, if it were possible to market passenger experiences? Data-based services are also an option – like a dating app that knows who you’re sitting next to. You see, once you know who is where and when, you can develop completely new business models and establish whole new industries.

A study carried out by Strategy Analytics on behalf of Intel valued the global market potential of this passenger economy at seven billion U.S. dollars per year. However, there is still a problem with trading in data – it has no measurable exchange value, meaning that customers’ willingness to pay varies considerably.

Dirk Ahlborn

"Mobility is working when you no longer notice it", says Dirk Ahlborn. He is CEO of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies. He is known for his outside-the-box approach, a strategy designed to breathe new life into companies with the aid of a paradigm shift. To do this, he relies on the full power of crowd collaboration, the internet and exponentially growing technologies.


Is mobility measurable?

Certainly, distances, journey times, social factors and environmental influences can be expressed in numbers. However, if we want to understand mobility in its entirety and draw conclusions from that for our future, this is not enough. That alone shows that the understanding of mobility must be fundamentally rethought. Mobility is not only something that can be created, but also something that can happen on its own – every day and all over the world.

“Audi MQ!”: Impulse for the mobility of tomorrow
Audi MediaCenter

“Audi MQ!”: Impulse for the mobility of tomorrow

Creative discussion about the future of mobility: Pioneers, visionaries and experts at Audi’s first Mobility Quotient!-Summit consider dimensions of movement. Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak described his journey from startup to IT giant. Wikipedia head Jimmy Wales offered insight into his online encyclopedia’s secret to success. In interactive workspaces, participants from all over the world worked in dialogue with Audi employees to develop new approaches to the most important mobility issues

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Consumption and emission figures of vehicles on this page:

A8: Combined fuel consumption in l/100 km: 8.0 – 5.6; Combined CO2 emissions in g/km: 182 – 145. Figures on the fuel consumption and the CO2-emissions vary in case of given ranges depending on the used combination of wheels/tires. //