Computing to replace performance as new top metric, Audi chief says

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How many gigabytes are under the hood?

This is the thing you might hear in the years to come from gearheads or car buyers looking at new late-model vehicles.

That’s according to remarks by BMW board member Markus Duesmann, the head of development at Audi and a key leader in innovation for the Volkswagen Group, which is hard at work catching up to its rivals in the field of computerized auto design.

A Reuters report today describes an initiative called ‘Project Artemis’ in which Volkswagen hopes to compete with Tesla on digital controls for vehicles.

“The idea is that an agile development group (to work on Project Artemis) will be less encumbered by the bureaucracy within Volkswagen Group, which owns brands including Bugatti, Bentley, Porsche, Skoda, and Lamborghini, as well as Audi and VW,” write Reuters authors. “VW has more than 10,000 employees working in research and development at the company’s Wolfsburg headquarters alone.”

Key elements of these newfangled computer systems include the use of both radar and ‘lidar’ or laser-focused sensor activity. In general, the use of sensors connected to smart software has evolved all sorts of aspects of driving, from braking to lane departure warnings to tire pressure monitoring, an early feature that’s been on new cars for a while now.

As to Duesmann ‘s assertion that people will start to value brains over brawn in their vehicles, the projected trend makes a lot of sense. Automakers are already scaling back on engine power to promote fuel conservation, in an era where our vehicles are spewing carbon into the environment. The idea is that years from now, a vehicle that can parallel park itself will be vastly more appealing than a truck that can pull a house.

Duesmann suggests that dozens of employees are at work on Project Artemis and that the first model bearing the new type of system will likely be an Audi, as opposed to say, a Bugatti

Some employees on these teams have experience in the race car world:

“Artemis will be led by Alexander Hitzinger, who was responsible for autonomous driving at Volkswagen and built up the Porsche racing team that won Le Mans endurance race in 2015, 2016, 2017,” Reuters reports. “Hitzinger also worked at Apple, where he set up and managed product development for autonomous vehicles.”

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