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AutoDigital: What will cars in the future look like?


December 1, 2017

E-Mobility, Digitization and Autonomous Driving are changing the role of cars in society. It’s time to talk about it – and so did the participants of the second AutoDigital conference, organized by the Weser-Kurier Media Group on campus on November 30. The conference was organized in partnership with Daimler and in cooperation with Jacobs University.

“We live in exciting, groundbreaking times”, stated Jacobs University’s President Professor Katja Windt in her welcome address. “The technological progress is enormous, it comes at a tremendous speed and it is all-encompassing.” Terms like Industry 4.0, Internet of Things, Big Data or Artificial Intelligence stand for this change. Disruptive technologies are often talked about, technologies that may completely supplant an existing product or service.” The automotive industry in particular is exposed to these changes and at the same time decisively impacts them.”

The changes in the concept of mobility affect many parts of society. Will we care in the future about data protection, if cars have networking capacities? How will our relationship to cars change? Who will be liable for accidents if cars are programmed to take certain decisions? These were just a few questions, which were addressed by our guests in several keynote speeches and panels.

Ola Källenius Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG with Jacobs University’s President Professor Katja Windt


One of them was Ola Källenius, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, Group Research & Mercedes-Benz Cars Development, who presented Daimler’s vision for the future of mobility. Comfortable digital onboard systems, which are capable of learning their owner’s preferences as well as e-mobility and autonomous driving will change the way people use cars.
Autonomous driving will also change the car’s interior, emphasized Källenius and referred to times before the car changed mobility: "We are a bit back in 1886. At that time four passengers sat in a coach and looked at each other." Saving time by being driven in a totally digitized car will offer new opportunities: Relaxing, eating, writing e-mails, watching films and series, doing online shopping. The car will be a place for leisure activities. For this new era of mobility, Daimler has many ideas, as Källenius stated: "Let yourself be surprised."

Ankur Modi Founder of the AI-powered insight platform StatusToday in London, who has been listed in this year’s Forbes’ 30 Under 30 ranking as one of the most promising innovators in Europe.


For AI- entrepreneur Ankur Modi, the AutoDigital Conference was a bit like coming home. Until 2011, Modi studied at Jacobs University. The Forbes Magazine named him as one of the “Top 30 under 30” in the field of technology in Europe. After graduating from Jacobs University, Modi worked at Microsoft before he founded his own company “StatusToday” in 2015.
His startup, which is based in London, uses organizational psychology, data and machine learning to pinpoint insider threats to an enterprise, or to help improve a company's sales performance. “People make mistakes. That’s normal. But in a digitized world the effects can be far more dramatic, than in former times”, said Modi, who referred to dangers like malware opened by a company’s employees. “Understand people, before you understand data”, was Modi’s appeal to his audience.

Professor Udo di Fabio, chairman of the ethics committee for automated driving and former judge at German Federal Constitutional Court, with Jacobs University’s President Professor Katja Windt, and Moritz Döbler, editor-in-chief of the Weser-Kurier.


Professor Udo di Fabio, chairman of the ethics committee for automated driving and former judge at German Federal Constitutional Court, talked about the ethical issue of these new developments: "Automated driving systems are ethically challenged if you increase road safety. The autonomous vehicle must always drive much safer than a human”, Di Fabio stated. He already had the change to test an autonomously driving car: "Automated technology slavishly sticks to traffic rules to rule out liability, but we tend to always increase the speed while driving," says Di Fabio. He had first been surprised, how easy it is to become a "traffic obstruction" by traveling in an autonomously driving car. “But that feeling passed quickly.”

Further information about the AutoDigital (in German) can be found in this blog by the Weser-Kurier.