The Head of Engineering Platform & Ecosystem, Advanced Driver Assistance Systems at Continental offers insights into the importance of software as a key to assisted and automated driving.
How important is software for the automotive sector?
Today, you will no longer find cars without on-board software, and whereas previously it might have been a manageable quantity of lines of code, nowadays it is already several million lines per vehicle. Generally, the volume of software and software complexity are increasing exponentially, and along with that the challenges that can only be solved using smart approaches to development.
Which are the software milestones at Continental that you are particularly proud of, and which is your favorite assistant system – and why?
The first generation of Surround View systems was my first product at Continental, and so that makes it my favorite product. The pin-sharp images around the car are a massive help when driving at low speeds. Although the current radar generation we are taking into series manufacture has similarly captured my heart. I can’t imagine driving any car nowadays without smart ACC (Adaptive Cruise Control), which in addition to ease of driving has also led to a quantum leap in safety.
What are the next milestones you want to achieve?
My dream is to virtualize our development world. A fully-virtual development and testing environment will make our development work somewhat quicker and our technologies even safer. A perfect simulation world using real and synthetic data from millions of driven kilometers will significantly change our world for the better in the next two years.
If you were driving/being driven in a fully-autonomous car for the first time in regular road traffic, how are you most likely to be spending your time?
I will be on the phone even more often than I am today. The best ideas are formed while driving, during discussions with colleagues where we have the opportunity to say and kick around absolutely mad ideas, with no time pressures and no agenda. Who knows what innovations are set to find their way into cars from that?
At this year’s IAA MOBILITY, for the first time ever the mobility of the future can be experienced in the Blue Lane, a special vehicle route between the trade fair and the city center. In your opinion, when might the first fully-autonomous vehicles be traveling that route in future?
That future is no longer so far off. If we reduce the complexity of the scenarios, we can already deploy autonomous vehicles today. One current example is RealLab Hamburg, where we will use driverless vehicles in the Hamburg district of Bergedorf during the ITS World Congress. However, driverless driving will still take some time to develop if we have to cover the endless number of scenarios. That will keep us busy for some time yet. We have already taken a big step towards it with our sensors and functions, which have become much more mature in recent years.
IAA MOBILITY is transforming itself from a pure car show to an international mobility platform with four pillars: The Summit, the Conference, the “Blue Lane” and the downtown Munich Open Space. Under the slogan of “What will move us next”, it stands for the digital and climate-neutral mobility of the future. From 7 to 12 September 2021, the car, bike and tech industries come together at IAA MOBILITY in Munich.