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5 questions for Johann Jungwirth

Will autonomous driving make road traffic safer? And what are the advantages of not having to sit behind the wheel oneself? The Vice President of Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) at Mobileye describes his vision of the mobility of the future in this 5-question interview.

The IAA MOBILITY covers sustainable mobility in all its facets. In a nutshell: What is your own personal vision of the mobility of the future?

For me this is driverless mobility for all, at the push of a button. Mobility of the future will be safe, accessible, sustainable, affordable and easy to use for all people – not only in cities, but also in rural areas. Self-driving inclusive mobility will be true freedom of mobility, also for people in wheelchairs, for elderly, for children, simply for everyone.

Mobileye deals with assistance systems and autonomous driving. What fascinates you about the idea of sitting behind the wheel without having to steer yourself?

Is it a great experience to enjoy a drive behind the steering wheel in a convertible on a hot summer day? Of course it is, and I am a car guy. But the fascination of self-driving is actually about getting all this time back I am currently wasting behind the steering wheel. The majority of the drives today are boring and driving is steeling our valuable time, about 800 billion hours worldwide per year. Time we could spend playing with our kids or enjoying the beautiful nature and surrounding we are driving through. As an engineer, I am naturally fascinated by the technologies involved. It was just 135 years ago that the world's first car was patented which enabled a new era of mobility. Today, we are on the verge of another leap forward: Autonomous Vehicles will make their way onto the streets worldwide in regular operation, changing the way we experience getting to our destinations. This will have implications not only on new mobility-as-a-service offerings but also solve pressing issues people in metropolitan areas are experiencing today: traffic routes are relieved, emissions are reduced, and people are given equal and affordable access to mobility. Last but not least, we should all have the option to buy full self-driving as an option for our next generation vehicles and be able to choose if I want to sit on the driver seat and drive, or sit in the back seat and enjoy the ride or get some well-deserved sleep.

Do you think that road traffic without accidents will be possible at some point?

Statistics clearly show that over 9 out of 10 crashes are due to human errors. This makes the human driver by far the number one risk in road traffic today. Through our technology we can reduce these risks drastically. A “Vision Zero” is therefore not an unattainable dream, but a clear and realistic goal. Even if we achieve just close to zero over the next decades, for example due to remaining risk of crashes with wildlife, it is higher purpose, since it would save millions of lives and reduce hundreds of millions of injuries in road traffic.

What are the factors that will be decisive for success in the mobility industry in the future?

Several factors will play key roles in the future mobility industry: number one is software and software-defined solutions, from in-vehicle AV and sensing technology to mobility cloud platforms, and this of course also includes best-in-class computer vision algorithms and artificial intelligence, with machine learning and deep neural networks. Number two is scalability, those players who have the approach, technology and platform solutions that support massive scaling of ADAS and self-driving solutions and vehicles. Everything we do supports this goal of scalability, from crowd-sourced auto-generated AV mapping to the driving policy based on Responsibility-Sensitive Safety, or formal modal for safety and decision making. Number three is getting the technology down to an affordable cost in line with the market for future AVs, which is also crucial to enabling global proliferation. In addition, close cooperation between industry and politics is elementary in order to prepare the required legislation and regulation and enable autonomous driving on a mass scale. To achieve this, all players must work together. We need to understand that our focus should lay on what unites us – the idea of new mobility – rather than what divides us. Automotive manufacturers and technology companies can collaborate in a symbiotic fashion and build on each other’s strength to make this a reality.

Mobileye's success is based on a system that relies on cameras. How good is your eyesight, by the way?

At this point, our computer vision technologies have far better eyesight than I personally do, and they have full 360 degrees surround view with a set of 11 eyes, compared to our limited view in one direction only as humans and seeing only a very small fraction of that focused and in high-resolution. In addition, in order to reach driverless mobility, we have added radars and lidars to our Mobileye Drive Level 4 Self-Driving System solution, and both sub-systems, camera-only as well as the radar-lidar system are fully capable of fulfilling the driving task. We call this approach True Redundancy, to reach higher level of safety and to ensure better validation of our solution, again focusing on scalability and fast rollout to markets around the world. We are already testing AVs here in Germany, in Israel, the US, China, Japan and very soon also in Paris, France to demonstrate fast scaling of our high-end ADAS and AV solutions.

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.