How does one experience mobility when in a vehicle? What emotions do we feel? Will we live and feel the same in the future? What is the impact of artificial intelligence and connected technology? What will travel look like in 2100… or 2200? These exciting questions guided discussions during a high-level debate at the IAA motor show in Munich. The select panel included: Luc Julia, Chief Scientific Officer at Renault Group; Carlo Ratti, Director of the SENSEable City Lab at MIT in Boston; and Armin Prommersberger, Vice President in charge of Products at Harman Automotive. The future is already on our doorstep, and we’re here to tell all! 

“A car should be an extension of one’s own life.”

Cars are increasingly equipped with multimedia screens, apps, embedded microchips, connected services, smartphone mirroring, 3D cockpit, and so on. Just how does the driver, but also the passengers, interact with all these features? For Luc Julia, it is a comprehensive and complex experience for people both in and out of the vehicle.

“It is important to feel that what you the experience when you are in the car is merely a continuation of everything you experience as a human being, no matter wherever you are. Whether you’re in your car, at home, anywhere. You need to be surrounded by the things that suit you well. The car must be an extension of your own life. Because, ultimately, that’s the life you want to live.”

luc julia
chief scientific officer, Renault Group

If cars are already part of our life experiences, it is because the increased levels of connectivity give rise to more personalized interactions. For Carlo Ratti, “these interactions occur at several levels: you can now interact not only with the inside of the car, but also with everything around it. Just like smartphones, cars must offer functional and efficient tools. So, you can do anything you want when you need to. Cars respond to our preferences and differences, collating information to better serve us: driving habits, typical routes, taste in music, favourite on board experiences, and so onMore and more, they gather information about the surrounding environment in order to curate different interactions: “You know if there is a car nearby because there are cameras looking around at what is happening. This means, the car can be a much more of an interactive platform than a simple smartphone, because a lot more data is being processed. ”

“Sound, like music, creates emotions.”

Sounds, touch screens, voice assistants, ADAS… it is all part of an interconnected universe that helps create the experience of life on board our vehicles.    

Pay attention and listen closely to what Armin Prommersberger has to say: We are emotional beings, we love emotions. Sound, like music, creates emotions. A sound system is really an interface between the musician and you, the listener. But a sound system can do more: an incoming phone call can trigger either positive or negative emotions. A sound system can help you feel more comfortable and at ease. It can remove sounds that are annoying. The most exciting and enthralling part is when it comes to safety. Today, we talk about music and phone calls. But there is also everything related to autonomous cars. For that, there are sensors that make can decisions that impact our lives… You can decide where to place audio warnings. If there is a pedestrian coming from the right, you can put the corresponding audio warning to the right. In fact, your brain is able to process sounds much faster than visual input. ”

Julia also sees what people hear as being of paramount importance: “The human brain is extremely capable at processing sound. For example, imagine there is a problem with the car, an audible warning or spoken message are much easier to process than a visual message displayed on your screen. Sound is much faster, and therefore more useful when interacting. We will see more and more of it in cars as time goes on. ”

Mobility now and in the future  

In the new era of data, edge computing, computer learning, and emotional intelligence, there is much thought devoted to the future of mobility. What does the future of travel look like? Can it be envisaged as something sustainable? How does all this technology influence future mobility?  

Luc Julia, global expert on artificial intelligence, has this to say: Things are moving at a very fast pace. Artificial intelligence has an aura around it, an image that doesn’t reflect reality. We need to focus on things that will be truly useful to people who drive cars; things that, above all, will improve safety. Then we can think about how to use artificial intelligence. The car becomes a source of endless interaction with you and your environment. Inside, depending on where you are seated and what you are doing, artificial intelligence sensors enhance interactions between everything both inside and outside. It will help find a wellbalanced level of interaction between you and the car. Artificial intelligence can directly change and mould our experience of being both inside and outside a car. “  

While the topic of future mobility is clearly a matter of freedom of movement, it is also an issue that relates to the whole environment that gives life to the best mobility solutions that also help preserve the planet. Smart cities are one such solution. Future mobility is a variety of mobility solutions that will interact with each other through data. For Luc Julia, “the challenge is in finding the best possible mode of propulsion in terms of the environment. Electric vehicles appear to be a good solution. Electric cars must be ‘smart’ in order to calculate the best route from point A to point B while including necessary stops to recharge the battery. Cities of the future will integrate multi-modal transport, with a range of transport solutions for trips around town; we must therefore devise much broader range of solutions, and micro-mobility solutions will help. We may also see the advent of cities with zero CO2 emissions. Urban mobility will gravitate to more shared vehicles. ”

A leap into the future with autonomous vehicles

Autonomous driving, connected cars… it all comes back to the same question: What will the car of the future look like? Luc Julia, our expert, sheds light on the matter“When we talk about autonomous driving, there are five levels of autonomy. Level 5 is the highest level where a no longer any need for a driver. You can be inside the car playing a game of cards while it drives you from point A to point B without you doing a thingIt’s like magic! But this level of autonomy is difficult to achieve because it depends on how complex the environment is and the speed of the carHowever, level 4 is not far removedLevel 4 autonomy is essentially a driverless vehicle. Imost cases, you could play a game of cards, but human intervention may be necessary at some point. In coming years, we will attain level 3 and even level 4 autonomywhich means remarkable things in terms of safetyCurrent on-board artificial intelligence systems have helped reduce the number of road accidents, because these systems are likely to react better than a human driver in many situations.”

For the three speakers, one thing is certain: cars of the future will be a totally different experienceTheir excitement is palpable: Everything will be smooth, transparent, and paid for in advance. We will travel however we wish, whenever we wish. There will be better interfaces for drivers, but also for passengers. As we look out the car windows, we will experience the world in a whole new way. It is fantastic future in store for us.