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Volkswagen Developing Cars That Pick You Up On Demand

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On: Thu, May 19, 2011 at 11:20AM | By: Chris Weiss

Volkswagen Developing Cars That Pick You Up On Demand

"I need ya, buddy." Those four simple words are all that The Hoff (a.k.a Michael Knight) needed to mutter before getting a reassuring: "Right away, Michael." Now that's a friggin' car.

Children of the 80s are among the most keenly aware of the promising possibilities of automated vehicles, thanks largely to the sheer awesomeness that the Trans Am known as K.I.T.T. brought to the table in a timeless little series called Knight Rider. And it looks like those children, now adults, will soon be able to direct their cars in a similar manner, although they may have to name it Klaus rather than Kitt.

Volkswagen is working on several cutting edge technologies with partners like Google, Oracle, and Nvidia, technologies that will make your car responsive to you.

Imagine: You're running late for a meeting. You roll up to one of those monstrous, 10-story parking garages and notice that it's looking pretty full. The last thing you really need to do at this point is drive from one level to the next in search of a parking spot. Instead, you pull up to the entrance, go to your meeting, and let your automated car find a spot and park itself. After a successful meeting that you were totally on time for, you come back down, summon your car with a smartphone (I need ya, buddy), and drive off without a hitch, Pretty sweet.

That's just one of the realities that VW is working toward in its Electronics Research Libratory in Silicon Valley. Other intriguing technologies that Volkswagen is developing include sensors that detect traffic and speed-limit changes and automatically slow down or speed up in accordance, integration of Google Earth and satellite views into navigation systems so that drivers can see and recognize their destinations, and wireless cell phone charging built into the center console.

Volkswagen's research center will eventually employ 100 engineers, designers, psychologists, and others to develop technologies that will make human-vehicle interaction more helpful and intuitive, delivering more optimal driving experiences in general. The center works with an annual budget of $20 million.

While Volkswagen has some good ideas, it's not the only automaker thinking this way. Technology has become an element that automakers are increasingly competing with. Existing systems like Ford's MyFord Touch and GM's OnStar have upgraded current-generation vehicles, and future technologies, like those being developed at Volkswagen right on up to cars that drive themselves, are getting closer and closer to market reality. The old engine, chassis, and interior just aren't enough to make the car anymore.



imwithcoco | 11:06AM (Mon, May 23, 2011)

I was waiting to scroll down and see the "burger" video.

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