The Wirtschaftszeitung talked with Lutz Höppner, Head of the Automotive Business Unit at intive, about the future of the car – and the car of the future.
Let’s cut to the chase: What will that vehicle of the future look like?
Basically, all that will remain of the car as we know it is the body, the powertrain and the wheels; the rest will be very flexible and customizable, but above all smart. When I get in, the car will automatically adjust to me, know what song I want to hear, what map I recently looked at, and what video game I want to finish playing, while the vehicle may already be partially autonomously driving.
In ten years‘ time, when everything is so completely personalized, how will I choose my car?
It’s going to be like owning a smartphone today. Many people have the same model, but when you unlock it, each one is unique. In the future, you will also be able to individualize your vehicle via the software. That will be the big differentiator.
Will this car really be driving autonomously by then?
It’s hard to predict what the world will be like in ten years‘ time. But one thing is certain: it is going to be very different to the world of today. In terms of autonomous driving, a lot would already be possible today, as demonstrated not least by the Tesla beta systems. The complexity is becoming increasingly manageable, and if the framework conditions are changed - for example, through legal speed limits on the highway - the solution horizon is not far away.
As Head of the Automotive Business Unit at intive you are also responsible for driving forward Artificial Intelligence and IT security in our company. How smart and safe will my car be ten years from today?
Artificial intelligence will make its presence felt not only in autonomous driving, but also in speech recognition, for example. I see it as a real gamechanger in car manufacturing, especially for the operation of certain individual elements. It is questionable whether we will still need to press any buttons at all, they may become obsolete. And of course, the demand for IT security is going to increase when virtually all car functions will be software-based.
The car of tomorrow, as you describe it, poses major challenges for automakers. What is the one particular hurdle they need to overcome?
There is a lot of talk about drive types, lack of range and charging infrastructure. But that will all evolve. A far more important issue is that carmakers will have to discontinue using the tried and tested – over the many years – structure of distributed and hardware-based systems. That's going to be the biggest change. The future lies in software and cloud solutions. We are supporting the automotive industry on the way there and are already working today on software-based, modular and service-oriented systems that will make up the architecture of tomorrow's car.
What exactly is intive doing for the future of mobility?
Thanks to our early specialization in software development, we have become a sought-after technology partner in the automotive industry in recent years. We have extensive expertise in the technologies of the future, such as autonomous driving, artificial intelligence, IT security, virtual reality and embedded software.
How future-oriented are automakers acting today?
I think everyone is aware that the industry is developing in this direction. All German carmakers are setting up their own software companies, and that’s saying something. The perception is out there. As always with such evolutionary steps, it is important to accept that they are necessary.