BELMONT, Calif. — Thanks to cutting-edge research being conducted at the Volkswagen Group Electronics Research Laboratory (ERL), tomorrow’s drivers may be able to interact with their cars more easily. Future drivers’ cars may be able to process information and provide guidance on how to spend less time in traffic, save fuel or even stay safer while driving.
Top Volkswagen and Audi executives, Silicon Valley technology innovators, political leaders and educators converged today to celebrate the opening of the ERL’s new location in Belmont. To mark the opening, ERL hosted “Tech Day,” a series of demonstrations that gave attendees a glimpse of the latest in automotive technology.
Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, the Electronics Research Laboratory represents the entire Volkswagen Group in applied research and development. Its mission is to develop innovations and technologies for future generations of cars, and to transfer technologies from many industries into the automotive domain. The ERL develops design and technical solutions that assist the driver in safe, convenient and intelligent interaction with in-vehicle information.
The ERL is an in-house think tank for Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini and Volkswagen. It focuses on providing customers with smarter cars, and aims to identify new technologies and accelerate their development into future production vehicles. Its presence in Silicon Valley allows the Volkswagen Group to work directly with the world's leading high-tech companies, start-ups, and universities to develop innovative features and applications for Volkswagen Group vehicles. The ERL recently moved from Palo Alto to the current Belmont location, its third office in Silicon Valley, in order to support the research lab’s consistent growth since its founding in 1998.
Volkswagen Group of America President and CEO Jonathan Browning was joined at Tech Day by key officials including: U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo, Belmont Mayor Coralin Feierbach; and Rob Csongor, Vice President of Corporate Marketing for NVidia. Also in attendance were visiting professors from several institutions including: the University of California, Berkley; the University of Southern California; the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute; the University of California, San Diego; Stanford University; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
“The Electronics Research Laboratory is another example of Volkswagen Group of America’s investment in the U.S.,” Browning said, adding that Volkswagen Group has made a significant multi-million dollar investment in the new facility. “The commitment of the ERL teams to automotive innovation will benefit drivers through safer, more eco-friendly driving experiences, prompted by the technological heartbeat of Silicon Valley. I am excited to help showcase the next generation of mobility today.”
The Tech Day presentations focused on the ERL’s key research areas, including:
Human Machine Interface
The most recent efforts of the Human-Machine Interface team at the Electronics Research Lab have been on the design of innovative vehicle cockpits for Volkswagen Group’s vehicles. To this end, the team is bringing touchscreen/touchpad and display innovations to the driver that support an “eyes on the road” in-vehicle technology user experience, as well as providing an array of cutting-edge communication, information, and entertainment applications to support the needs of rear-seat passengers.
The Infotainment Platforms team is developing futuristic systems that learn individual driving styles, preferences, and schedules to provide valuable, personalized feedback about driving performance, desired points of interest and destinations, as well as intelligent recommendations for more efficient travel. This powerful tool helps assist drivers in planning routes to avoid stressful driving, reserve parking spaces ahead of time, and mitigate dangerous driving situations.
Building on the success of the Google Earth-based navigation system launched first in the new Audi A8 and the all-new Audi A7, the Infotainment Applications team enhances the customer’s online navigation experience with the development of Google Voice Local Search and Google Street View.
Driver Assistance Systems
The Driver Assistance Systems (DAS) team is leveraging its collaboration with Silicon Valley-based visual computing technologies company NVIDIA to create next-generation vision processing applications for more powerful assistance systems. The team is also working with Oracle to develop Java-based tools for increasingly complex, robust software architectures mediating DAS computations. The team has partnered with Virginia Tech and Stanford University to continue its co-development activities for advanced driver assistance systems.
”These types of innovations clearly show that our researchers are among the best and brightest tackling the problems of mobility today,” said ERL Executive Director Burkhard Huhnke. “Our partnerships with universities, organizations and companies like NVIDIA, Google and Oracle are helping us focus on smarter, safer driving and next-generation technologies.”
Through its ERL, Volkswagen Group has the largest research presence of any automaker in the Bay Area. The ERL employs 100 engineers and scientists and is one of the company's centers of ideas and innovation for the Volkswagen Group worldwide. The ERL’s research has led to numerous driver-assisted technologies and communication tools that help drivers stay safer behind the wheel. Last year, Volkswagen Group invested nearly $10 billion in research and development. In addition to the Belmont facility, the Volkswagen Group Research division includes the Volkswagen Research Lab China (VRC) and Technical Representative Tokyo (VTT).
About Volkswagen Group of America, Inc.
Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Volkswagen AG, the world's third-largest automaker and the largest carmaker in Europe. It houses the U.S. operations of a worldwide family of distinguished and exciting brands including Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini and Volkswagen, as well as VW Credit, Inc. Founded in 1955, the company's headquarters are in Herndon, Va., Volkswagen Group of America brings to the U.S. vehicles that marry the science of engineering and the art of styling, with the goal of offering attractive, safe, and environmentally sound automobiles that are competitive and set world standards in their respective classes. The company has approximately 3,500 employees in the United States and sells its vehicles through an 800-strong dealer network. With increasing popularity for its brands in the U.S., the company has set the goal of reaching one million car sales in the country by 2018.
About Volkswagen AG
The Volkswagen Group, with its headquarters in Wolfsburg, is one of the world’s leading automobile manufacturers and the largest carmaker in Europe. In 2010, the Group increased the number of vehicles delivered to customers to 7.203 million (2009: 6.336 million), corresponding to a 11.4 percent share of the world passenger car market. In Western Europe just over one in five new cars (21.0 percent) comes from the Volkswagen Group. Group sales came in 2010 to 126,9 billion euros (2009: 105.2 billion). Profit after tax in the 2010 financial year amounted to 7.2 billion euros (2009: 0.9 billion). The Group is made up of nine brands from seven European countries: Volkswagen, Audi, SEAT, Skoda, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini and Scania.