What is your department doing to help bring about automated driving?
One of the keys to enabling driverless cars is access to high-resolution roadmaps and street atlases. That is why a consortium made up of Daimler AG, Audi, and BMW recently bought the mapping service Nokia Here. We are working on ways to harness that data for automated driving.
What message do you have for customers who fear that this new technology is set to take away a little piece of their freedom?
As with every new technology, I think it will take time to adjust. Automated driving still faces a few significant challenges. First, in terms of technology it has to function flawlessly. And secondly, if customers are to feel comfortable with the new technology we have to earn their trust, which is also a question of user experience: how can the driver be sure that the car is better at observing and scanning the traffic environment than he does himself? Well, one way would be by enabling the system to inform the driver that it has identified a hazardous situation two blocks away.
Are you working toward eventually doing away with the steering wheel altogether?
No, I think the driver will always want a choice. First thing in the morning, you will probably be happy to let the car do the driving, while you quietly get on with writing e-mails or chatting to your children on the school run. But on a Sunday when the sun is shining, you may prefer to sit at the wheel for a family trip into the mountains. Automated driving is set to broaden our range of options, not limit them.