Abdallah Shanti, EVP & Group CIO of the Americas Region, Volkswagen AG
The revolutionizing trends in the technological landscape—Artificial Intelligence (AI), cloud-based applications, and IoT—have made our work more doable with minimum investment and easy implementation. Today, technology has paved the way for machine learning, imitating the intricate connections between our neurons, resulting in highly intelligent machines that can perceive things and convey information to us. With the dawn of unprecedented technologies, the “automotive industry” has undergone major transformation and is witnessing a deluge of sensor-based, Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered machines in recent times.
The Advent of Smart Cars
The concept of ‘electrical cars’ is neither just a theoretical proposition nor is the term freshly coined. Prof. Ferdinand Porsche was one of the earliest pioneers of electric vehicles, developing the first hybrid and advanced electric vehicles in the 1890’s and early twentieth century. Since Ferdinand’s time, the traditional ecosystem of the automotive industry has undergone substantial technological transformation. Electric cars not only alleviate our driving woes but also help in keeping the environment green and pollutant free. An innovation that purges nature of pollutants is a progression made in the right direction and is beyond just good enough. A multitude of technologies, both hardware and software, are integrated to enhance the e-car experience which are manifested in Audi e-tron and Volkswagen e-Golf. The Volkswagen I.D. Buzz, a classic Volkswagen Bulli, is all set to hit the road in 2022. The production version, which is based on the new all-electric architecture MEB, will also feature variable seating, interactive connectivity and highly automated driving.
Companies are constantly endeavouring to boost a car’s performance. They are constantly at work to amplify the user adoption rate by improving on the speed of charging of electric cars and the distances they cover. Exceptional technological innovation amalgamated with aesthetically pleasing design is the key to producing a highly desired automobile.
Today, the technology that is being deployed in the automotive market is primarily focused on the safety of commuters, streamlined driving dynamics, and convenience of the driver. The adaptive cruise control in Volkswagen is implemented with a radar sensor to calculate speed and measure distance between vehicles to provide a hassle-free driving experience. Other groundbreaking features include the safety brake feature, the traffic jam assist, and the active lane assist that work meticulously to ensure the safety of the driver and fellow passengers. For instance, under controlled parameters the active lane assist feature can avert a mishap by preventing the car from accidentally drifting away from the lane. The smart feature identifies lane markings, measures the distance between vehicles, and assists with steering, acceleration, and brakes.
“Exceptional technological innovation amalgamated with aesthetically pleasing design is the key to producing a highly desired automobile”
ABS, as a manifestation of technology, steered its way into the automobile industry at the turn of the 18th century. In the 90s, ABS was a standard safety feature in almost every car and today, in the 21st century, traction control and stability management are incorporated in cars for added safety.
The improvement in the automobile industry with introduction of game-changing technologies—electrification of vehicles, refining of sensors, AI, deep machine learning, autonomous cars—has been a perpetual process and continues to be at work while you read this article.
Inspire to Innovate
The Volkswagen IT teams, operating from the CODE Lab in San Francisco and the DATA: Lab in Munich, are thoroughly involved in quantum computing to discover newer techniques to leverage emerging technologies in future. With the dawn of unprecedented technologies and intuitive machines, staying abreast with the ever evolving automotive industry is necessary. Technology can bode well for organizations that implement them effectively and have the ability to push their own limits.
Immunity to disruption is not a viable option for any organization. A huge responsibility is vested in a senior leader to educate and inculcate team members with up-to-the-minute technologies in order to be part of the market disruption. Disruption in industries is happening at a rapid pace and to adapt to it quickly, a company must continuously devise new plans and brainstorm new ideas. Uber is an exemplary disruption in the conventional ecosystem of car services. Minimum implementation, and software engineers who refused to be dragged down by outdated technologies, introduced Uber as a company that transformed the personal automobiles into mobility as a service.
As a CIO, it’s quite a task to empower an organization and inspire its members. A strategic approach is indispensible for the growth of an enterprise and also crucial to help it stay ahead of the game. A leader must lay “division,” create an environment for his team members to be successful, and develop a culture where failure is acceptable in order to “foster innovation.” Flexibility and freedom of employees is as essential as talent acquisition. A strong stratagem coupled with the right motivation is imperative to excel in the world of technology. Revolutionary technologies are not invented overnight; they are the consequences of the effort that people put in for years for a better future.
Technology has endowed mankind with the ability to build a world that was once considered apocryphal and unfathomable. With the greater adoption of IoT and machine learning, the automobile industry shall reach new milestones and make driving a seamless experience.