Porsche is not exactly known for its ambitions towards autonomous driving. When I joined a Fraunhofer symposium in 2014, a Porsche spokesman stressed out the importance of driving pleasure for Porsche. The joy of driving would fall apart if their cars would drive autonomously. However the car manufacturer didn’t want to evade the technology completely.
The problem: Porsche cars are meant to go fast. The fully self-driving vehicle of today is barely capable of driving more than 30 km/h. Audi recently showcased the “Aicon”, its level 5 autonomy concept that shall be able to reach 130 km/h – but the higher the speed the higher the necessary processing capacity.
Digitalization at Porsche
In the last years Porsche mainly focused on developing smartphone integration, different driving modes and driving assistance systems. Latter is connected with the infotainment offer which only implies Apple’s CarPlay for Porsche models because the Swabians didn’t want to hand over their customers’ data to Google.
Back in the day Matthias Müller, former boss at Porsche and currently in charge at Volkswagen, described autonomous driving as a hype, a temporary fashion that will fade out quite soon. Today everybody knows that he was wrong – event Müller himself. His successor Oliver Blume kept the course stating that smartphones belong into one’s pocket and not into a car. It was his reply to the frequent statement that cars are turning into driving phones. But you may raise the question: is this the right course for the future? Obviously not.
Mark Webber and more
Eventually the board of Porsche came to its senses and initiated first measures towards vehicle autonomy. Porsche teamed up with Audi to contribute to the development of driverless vehicle technology. Furthermore it was announced that by the release of the fully electric model Mission E (supposedly in 2019) all new models can be upgraded via apps. Customers will be given the option to purchase software packages in order to unlock new features like extra horse power or special chassis settings.
One example is the Mark Webber app – named after the race driver and former formula 1 pilot. The software records Webber’s (or another race driver’s) racing line on the famous Nürburgring racetrack and enables the autonomous car to replicate it on the circuit. The driver can follow the racing line chosen by the car and take over control when he is ready.
About the author:
David Fluhr is journalist and owner of the digital magazine “Autonomes Fahren & Co”. He is reporting regularly about trends and technologies in the fields Autonomous Driving, HMI, Telematics and Robotics. Link to his site: http://www.autonomes-fahren.de