We selected main statements by Alexandre Haag to get what’s different about Autonomous Intelligent Driving and what role does the start-up have within the VW Group.
What are your responsibilities at Autonomous Intelligent Driving?
I’m responsible for everything that’s related to the car: software, hardware and for simulation as well as system engineering.
Before autonomous driving becomes reality, some questions need to be answered. What is important from a technical point of view?
There are many technical aspects we have to consider: For example, one question is around LiDAR (light detection and ranging). For us the question is not if we need LiDAR, but how much do we need? Can we go with a few beams or do we need a higher density? Another question is the importance of maps. We believe that maps function in a similar way to a driver’s memory, remembering what the road ahead of us looks like. In other words, HD maps act like a long range “sensor”, allowing us to see ahead by 10 to 20 seconds. Finally, I think there is also one question on the perception side. How can we work not just frame per frame but also look at the differences across frame – e.g. motion, which the human eye is very sensitive at detecting.
There are a lot of competitors like Waymo, Uber, …? What is different about Autonomous Intelligent Driving?
Generally, there are two types of competitors: There are traditional automotive companies (e.g. OEMs) and the other big groups are tech companies and start-ups. In my opinion the tech companies are much better at software engineering and Artificial Intelligence. They can be more innovative and faster, but at the end, the software has to be installed in the cars and here I think they have a lot of learning to do. They don’t just have to understand how the car itself works, but also understand the environment, how to make inexpensive hardware that can work reliably in extreme conditions, the regulations and how you achieve homologation. And that’s what the traditional automotive companies are good at.
So for Autonomous Intelligence Driving I think we have the chance to be right in the middle of these two, to combine the best of these two worlds. We have a good balance of being connected to the automotive industry, but we are not drawn into traditional lengthy processes.
Our big advantage is that we are able to attract talent from both worlds that bring extensive knowledge in software engineering. I think our chance is to combine these people with different backgrounds and get the right mix to develop the car for the future.