STUTTGART -- Ralf Lamberti, manager of the connected-car area at Daimler, says the car is becoming "a part of the Internet," meaning it will be "able to communicate with its environment and other vehicles." Lamberti was interviewed by Automobilwoche, a sister publication to Automotive News Europe.
Q: What will the car of the future look like?
A: Everyone would like to know that. Our focus is on three aspects at the moment: First of all, the powertrain will change, moving from the internal combustion engine to more and more electric propulsion.
Second, the vehicle will be gradually automated.
And third, we are not just bringing the Internet into the vehicle. We are making the vehicle a part of the Internet. That means that the vehicle will be networked in many different ways and will be able to communicate with its environment and other vehicles.
How autonomously will we drive in the future?
At the moment, we do not see the driver wanting automated systems to drive him everywhere all the time. There are too many situations where driving is just fun. And there will continue to be situations in traffic where the driver must be in a position to take control.
What scenarios can be developed from the car-to-x theme, meaning the communication of the vehicle with its environment?
"Swarm intelligence" is a good catchword: How do vehicles behave when they can cooperate with one another? What will become possible that has been impossible until now? Can you forecast certain scenarios based on vehicles and their communication with one another? How do you best respond to this? I am including aspects such as complex traffic situations and infrastructure problems.
Will a future without traffic fatalities be achieved with swarm intelligence?
There are a great many prerequisites for this to happen. For one thing, you need the behavior of all the traffic participants to be calibrated to one another. Every moving object, including cyclists and pedestrians, must know what the other objects are doing and where they are going next. For another, it requires much greater sensor precision and greater processing potential than the current technology permits. The further development of the technology will take a few years.
You described the car as a part of the Internet. Has the status of the car changed within society?
In many media, and even in studies, the notion has become widespread that young people really don't want and don't need a car anymore. But we see sharp differentiations. In many countries, people rely on individual mobility, and the car is a part of that, as is the case for us in Europe. The situation is different in Asia. In Asia's megacities, mobility is multimodal. America moves to a different beat. There, the philosophy is "the car is king." People live in suburbs and drive their own cars everywhere. We have to keep these varying needs in mind.
How does Daimler see the future of networking?
We have just introduced "Mercedes me," a portal that bundles various services for Mercedes-Benz customers under one umbrella. It makes it possible for the user to obtain information on the vehicle's condition in the "connect me" area. How full is the gas tank, how charged is the battery, what is the tire pressure, and when is the next service due?
Is there an app for this?
No, we deliberately decided against an app. The user accesses all of this information by means of a secure browser. In this way, we have achieved a new level of data integration into the vehicle. Now, a great many other services can be offered, and highly current information can be delivered into the vehicle.