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Autonomous driving: From 2022, robot taxis are expected to roll in Munich

In a spectacular world premiere, the first robot taxi service for Germany was presented at the IAA MOBILITY. The example shows: For the implementation of future technologies such as autonomous driving, alliances between big players and a clear plan are needed.

"Arrived in the future" - with these words ended Sixt's promotional film at the IAA MOBILITY for the first robot taxi service in Germany. As early as next year, the first 100 per cent electric taxis are to roll along the streets in Munich with their customers, "once all regulatory hurdles have been overcome". Alexander Sixt called the "first driverless robot taxi service in Germany a lighthouse project for Europe".

 
Alexander Sixt and Intel-CEO Pat Gelsinger

Robot taxis belong to level four of autonomous driving

The vehicles are equipped with innovative technology from Intel Mobileye, which can operate fully automatically with a total of eleven cameras as well as lidar and radar sensors. The robot taxis belong to level four of autonomous driving. The vehicles are supposed to be able to drive autonomously in almost all situations and only have a human driver on board for control purposes. The vehicles can be ordered via the Moovit or Sixt app. Germany was the first country in the world to adopt a basic legal framework for autonomous driving this year.

"We want to develop world-changing technologies that improve people's lives," explained Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger at the presentation in Munich. On the way to the mobility of the future, the previously known boundaries between the technology and mobility sectors are also becoming increasingly blurred. "The cars of the future will be computers on four wheels," said Gelsinger. At the moment five per cent of vehicles consist of semiconductor chips, in 2030 it will be 20 per cent.

Technology and mobility industry merge

"We are becoming more and more important to you, but you are also becoming more and more important to us. That's why I'm here," said Gelsinger, looking into the audience filled with automotive experts. He praised the new concept of IAA MOBILITY in Munich and announced investments of up to $95 billion in new semiconductor factories in Europe. "We are here to help and to find new partners," Gelsinger said. Cooperation is the order of the day to advance the mobility of the future, he said. This also applies to the development of common safety standards for autonomous driving, in which Intel-Mobileye has formed an alliance with important players in the industry such as Volkswagen or Ford.

Prof. Dr. Stefan Bratzel, Director of the Centre of Automotive Management, had previously stated in a roundtable discussion on autonomous driving at the IAA MOBILITY that the technology could be a "game changer" for a sustainable future of mobility. However, only if the big companies pull together, at least in part.

Centralisation, data exchange, simulation

"Firstly, we need a centralisation of infrastructure. Secondly, data alliances and data sharing - until now, each OEM has been running its own program. Thirdly, it's about simulation. How many miles do we have to drive and how many can we simulate in the computer? Autonomous driving should be simulated in the digital world and validated in the real world. At the moment it's still the other way around," said Microsoft expert Ulrich Homann, who joined us from the USA.

According to Prof. Juergen Bortolazzi, Director of Driver Assistance Systems at Porsche, the many millions of test kilometers for securing autonomous driving functions are not yet sustainable enough, just like mass data transfer to clouds.

Intel-CEO Pat Gelsinger

"Game changer only if you get it right"

According to Torsten Gollewski from the ZF Group, autonomous driving is perceived in the same way as flying: "It's not the brand, such as Boeing, that is decisive, but the quality of the transport. In order for everyone to benefit and to make faster progress, there needs to be much more cooperation between the brands. And you have to think about what happens to mobility systems through autonomous driving. "Will cycling be replaced by autonomous driving and thus induce more traffic? Will autonomous shuttles lead to spatial structures changing? Do people allow themselves to be driven further distances from their homes and does this increase the climate footprint?" asked Stefan Bratzel. And added: "Autonomous driving could be a big game changer, but only if you tackle it right."

Success stories needed: Automated parking at IAA MOBILITY

Bratzel suggested that customers could get money for handing over data from their vehicles. All participants agreed that positive use cases are needed to convince users of the new technology. "We need success stories. A good example is automated parking," said Bortolazzi: "For example, if you drop off your car at the car park, you don't have to worry about parking and when you return, you get it back charged. That’s how everyone recognizes the benefit." This can already be seen at the IAA MOBILITY during presentations in the West multi-storey car park.

The robot taxi service from Intel-Mobileye and Sixt is then the next step into the mobility of the future. Alexander Sixt: "Autonomous driving will be the next big bang." Because: The future of mobility has already begun.