13 exhibition days, 6 engineering specialists from the fields of design, package, HMI, VR, APP development and business cases, one empty stage and one social media wall: this was the setup for presumably the first live engineering project in the history of the IAA, which the Wiesbaden-based engineering company EDAG demonstrated at this year's IAA show in Frankfurt. The aim: to develop robot vehicles with swarm intelligence which, apart from being suitable for passenger transportation, should also provide enhanced work and leisure functionalities, to make more extensive use of the potential of autonomous driving.
Throughout the entire ongoing development process, the general public were able to use the hashtag collectivio to send their ideas and wishes to the EDAG development team, and so make a collective contribution to the mobility concept. Over 1,000 ideas were received by EDAG's live engineering team via social media. The "Scrum" development method made it possible not only to note all these impulses, but also to implement them flexibly and efficiently in the short time frame offered by the show.
By the end of the IAA, the team had produced a complete, true-scale model which moved autonomously around the track at the EDAG stand, and was able to receive and carry out its first orders via voice control.
Apart from the classic design of the vehicle hardware, one of the key focal points was the development of new types of control element for voice and gesture control. For example, the entire booking process for the Collectivio during the IAA was developed via voice control. Further, the question of the cost of future mobility was also discussed in depth. The release of private data might, for instance, be one way of reducing the fare for future Collectivio users. Advertising media could then use this data to broadcast their adverts: so the reasoning of the EDAG business cases team. "With Collectivio, we are even putting forward the hypothesis that free mobility will become possible if we incorporate advertising and intelligent sponsoring into the mobility context," explained Michael Pollner from the business cases team.
In the course of the 13 exhibition days, various design studies were presented to the community, changed according to their wishes, and finalised by means of a voting process in the social web. "The community feedback clearly showed us that people want more comfort and a relaxed atmosphere in Collectivio; sporty characteristics and agility were not key requirements," according to designer Tom Hasenauer. "When designing the interior, for instance, we therefore decided in favour of a lounge-type back seat.
But how can the time spent in a self-driving vehicle be put to use if the passenger is not involved in driving it? To this end, the virtual reality (VR) team developed an entertainment system that enables passengers to put on VR glasses and experience and book trips through different landscapes – synchronised with the actual motion of the vehicle they are in. "Or they can have a friend appear as a virtual passenger, and communicate with him or her during the journey," suggests Henning Linn from the VR team.
Summing up after the IAA, the EDAG engineers concluded that the functions and applications available during autonomous driving will take on far greater significance. This opinion is impressively borne out by the more than 1000 ideas sent to the EDAG development team during the exhibition.
With this project, EDAG demonstrated how, in the digital world, greater flexibility can be introduced into engineering and new impulses be linked with future technologies. Feedback received from customers and visitors to the show clearly shows that the skills presented and solutions developed reflect the spirit of the age. The automotive world is changing, and with #collectivio, EDAG has positioned itself as an innovative, solution-oriented engineering partner.
The results of the work of the individual teams and complete white papers are shortly to be published.