The automobile as a collective idea
Wiesbaden/Fulda When exhibitors from all over the world present their latest models and developments at this year's IAA, the stand belonging to engineering specialists EDAG will be empty to begin with. No concept car, no new technical gadgets, nothing. Just a stage that will serve as the development laboratory for what could well be Germany's first live engineering project. The world's largest independent automotive developers will be sending experts to the IAA to carry out the live development of a vehicle concept using the scrum method, and then host its world premiere on Day 12. Engineering 2.0 - greater agility, speed and efficiency. Visitors will be able not only to watch the EDAG engineering specialists live, but also to interact and play an active part in the concept phase via social media channels. On the final day of the show, the outcome of this experiment, a concept for robot vehicles with swarm intelligence will be presented: a new autonomous, electrically-powered and networked result that will open up new prospects for mobility. The future of automotive development lies in collective, networked operations - and at EDAG, this applies not just to development but also to the product.
When cars work together to think and drive more effectively: the EDAG project #collectivio.
The idea of live development with audience participation on the spot and via the Internet is in itself revolutionary enough. But with #collectivio, its aptly named project, EDAG also intends to show that the concept of autonomous driving can be taken even further. After all, why have just autonomous driving if collectively vehicles can do even more? It stands to reason that, in the course of network integration, an autonomous vehicle would ultimately make an ideal personal assistant and, apart from transporting its passenger would also be able to organise the daily routine and similar things. If, however, mobility should soon become more important than ownership, then a whole fleet of vehicles would be able to do far more for the mobile person than a single car could. On the spot, constantly available transport through intelligent car sharing, en-hanced benefits through task sharing for goods or passenger traffic, or guaranteed intermodality, no matter where: networking vehicles to create a swarm could make possible everything we hope for and expect of the mobility of the future. Namely easing the traffic situation, putting resources to more efficient use, and gaining more space, time and comfort for everyone. Because a traffic scenario that is available as a collective for people 24/7 creates space - and not just in today's congested cities where parking is a huge issue.
Even if the general aim of EDAG's #collectivio project has already been outlined, just how it will be implemented still remains to be seen. EDAG specialists from six different divisions will join forces on the twelve days of the show to work out exactly what a vehicle fleet with swarm intelligence will look like. However, it will not be the engineers who decide what is really important in the project, but the people who will ideally be using #collectivio in the future. The EDAG social media channels are available to anyone interested in sending their requests, ideas and wishes to the developers throughout the 12-day concept phase, and thus playing an active role in the development. The hashtag "#collectivio" will serve as a pool for ideas for the engineers - all features, comments and contributions will be transferred live to a social media wall, evaluated by the specialists, and - ideally - incorporated in the project. For EDAG, this marks a departure from conventionally inflexible product specifications and a development process that is a oneway street from a vehicle concept to the finished product. At the end of the live engineering project staged at the IAA, both the completed vehicle and mobility concept and an additively manufactured scale design model that will illustrate and bring the idea to life will be on display.
In the vehicle, too, the digital world is revolving faster and faster. The speed at which the product "automobile" has to adapt to new mobility and customer requirements is constantly increasing. Other industries set the benchmarks here, and the customer then also expects the same from the automotive industry. If we define a future vehicle model today and take three years to put it on the market, the world will have passed us by many times by then.
Really new mobility concepts call for new tools, new ways of thinking and new engineering approaches.
The fact that the EDAG specialists are able to react to audience input with such flexibility and spontaneity and are capable of producing results so quickly is mainly down to the SCRUM work method, which has its origins in the software world. Thanks to SCRUM, companies can today develop products in increasingly rapid cycles.
However, little attention has so far been paid to this method in classic vehicle development processes, and one reason for this is that the thought and process patterns in this sector still tend to be rather rigid.
"Engineering, too, must learn to speak the language of new beginnings. We want to make the development process multi-dimensional, more flexible and faster, to guarantee the required pace. In Frankfurt, we will be offering a glimpse of how we can create an "Engineering 2.0" with a more rapid reaction rate," explains Jörg Ohlsen, CEO of EDAG Engineering GmbH.
SCRUM is an agile process in which the team gets together at short intervals (generally every day), to discuss how work is progressing and exchange ideas. Communication with the customer is also quicker; new requirements and customer preferences are noted at shorter intervals, packed into small work packages - known as sprints - prioritised and incorporated. Particularly in the concept phase of a radically new vehicle and mobility concept like #collectivio, which more than anything else depends on the input of future users, SCRUM is the perfect means of demonstrating how the engineering process can be improved in the future. And precisely this is what will be presented live at EDAG's stand in Frankfurt live.
EDAG specialists from the disciplines design, architecture/package, HMI development, VR de-velopment, app development and business cases will be coming together as a joint engineering team in the SCRUM arena. The design team will draft the shape and surfaces and show how much of the classic car needs to remain visible for a swarm vehicle, or whether a number of different vehicle categories and development stages are required. The architecture/package team will focus on the development of a scalable ePlatform in their project work, and answer the question of what in fact the powertrain and car have to do for the driver.
HMI in the interior and exterior is an important aspect in the #collectivio project. Do we actually want autonomous driving, and if so, are a number of different drive modes required in operation? Cruising, or just getting to an appointment quickly? These questions will be discussed live, and must be answered for development - very much in the sense of living product specifications. To illustrate the complexity of autonomous driving, the EDAG team at the stand will be programming a model car that will autonomously carry out manoeuvres as it drives around the track, and have to perform increasingly complex tasks.
Autonomous driving goes hand in hand with the fact that a vehicle will have to process far more data than is today the case. This point just about pushes vehicle electrical/electronic systems to their very limits, and new technological impulses are called for. At the IAA, therefore, EDAG will be showing how Ethernet in the vehicle might be able to help to considerably improve the efficiency of the vehicle's data processing.
The on-site work of the business cases team will be to develop concepts for a range of services that can be put to good use while driving and, as a pleasant side effect, develop new business models. One of these ideas will be developed live by the Apps/VR team and then presented at the end of the live engineering project at the IAA stand.
The actual aim of #collectivio is to show that mobility in the future can only improve by becoming a collective matter. In its development and in the product itself: only its collective use creates added value that benefits everybody. For this reason, anyone interested in mobility can get involved in #collectivio. Any ideas and comments posted with the hashtag #collectivio via Facebook or Twitter will be sent directly to the EDAG scrum team at the IAA, and incorporated in the live development there. The collective input will be shown on the social media wall at the EDAG stand - and visitors and Internet viewers can give their live appraisal of what the engineers do with it at the stand.
"Particularly during the concept phase of such a radically new mobility concept, the developers must not withdraw into their ivory towers. They must keep their radar range as wide as possible. And for this reason, we made a conscious decision to follow a co-creation process to underline the character of our latest engineering concept," explains Jörg Ohlsen.
"#collectivio! – probably the first live engineering project in the history of the automobile!