For Audi, autonomous driving is a key technology that can make traffic safer and mobility more comfortable and inclusive in the future.

21 January, 2022

“After electromobility, the next, clearly more radical change is the transition to more intelligent and, ultimately, autonomous vehicles,” says Markus Duesmann, CEO of AUDI AG of the emerging trends in mobility. 

“For us, autonomous driving is a key technology that can make traffic safer and mobility more comfortable and inclusive,” he says.

Along with the Volkswagen Group’s software company CARIAD, Audi is driving the introduction of this new technology forward in the second half of this decade, although many questions, from legal to technical still remain to be solved as well as the broader question of social acceptance. 

People’s attitudes are critical for new technologies like autonomous driving to catch on, and to that end, 19 scientific, policy, and economic experts discussed issues concerning the future of autonomous driving – the results having now been published by the &Audi Initiative in a new study entitled ‘SocAIty’.

The study focuses on three main areas – Law and progress, Relationships of trust between human and machine and Networked security. 

“All in all, the result is an image of a mobility landscape that will look different in 2030 from what it looks like today, but will manage without science fiction,” says Saskia Lexen, Project Manager for the &Audi Initiative at AUDI AG. 

So what will mobility look like in 2030? According to the study, the mobility landscape in 2030 will be more diverse and compartmentalised, with larger cities leading the way. 

Markus Duesmann, CEO of AUDI AG of the emerging trends in mobility.

Most of the experts see the US as a driving force behind the technology of autonomous driving, although not all new technologies will necessarily be primarily developed there, but rather be put on the road with the help of capital and expertise. China, is also seen as a trailblazer in spreading the technology largely because of the high degree of social acceptance of new technology and a determined expansion of infrastructure. In the experts’ opinion, Germany and Europe will primarily be innovation sites for vehicle technologies and high-volume production, in addition to playing an important role as sales markets in the next 10 years. 

Overall, it looks as though the market for mobility offerings will be more fragmented than it is today. Particularly in urban areas, shared mobility offerings and digitally networked mobility services will be widespread. However, that does not mean that private transportation and the car are going to massively lose significance. Cars will still shape the mobility landscape. Particularly in rural regions, but also in suburban areas and cities, the availability of a personal car – whether it be bought, leased, or available some other way – will still offer greater flexibility and comfort in the future.

However, autonomous mobility systems are on the rise around the world. Freight and delivery transportation are taking a leading role in this. Delivery drones, fully automated systems for rail traffic or trucks with intelligent driver assistance systems are all conceivable. 

Saskia Lexen, Project Manager for the &Audi Initiative at AUDI AG.

The potential for greater safety, sustainability, and efficiency is enormous. There are also applications for local public transit – it is highly likely that autonomous shuttles will become a reality – but primarily in defined areas with fixed routes with what are known as Automated People Movers. 

“You will see certain areas like city centres, universities, large campuses, retirement communities etc. where you're going to have autonomous driving Level 4-5,” says Deborah Hersman, Former Chairman & Board Member, U.S. National Transportation Safety Board Ex-Waymo.

“But I think, that we are going to see a lot of geofencing in those environments.”

Another application that we will see more of in 2030 in cities in Europe, North America and China is robotaxis. Some experts believe that large fleets will already be on the road in 2030, while others say that will come later. It primarily depends on technical developments like a widespread 5G network, cloud edge computing, and quantum computing.

With all available information, it looks as though autonomous driving will change our mobility landscape somewhat incrementally. Initially, it is very likely that driver assistance systems will penetrate very deeply into private transportation. Functions like highway or traffic assistance will increase, but even so, most cars of tomorrow will still be driven by people – particularly in complex traffic situations like urban traffic. So the vision of a ‘relaxing drive’, in which all occupants can recline their seats, looks set remain a vision of the future even in 2030.