Audi has a new research center to work on next-generation electric vehicle technology

By | September 19, 2023

A light gray Audi four-door sedan sits in front of a tent in Audi's new technology hub in Ingolstadt

This new Audi hub is working on next-generation EV technologyGraeme Fordham

  • Audi opens technology park on the Ingolstadt campus in Germany, after transforming the area of ​​a former refinery into a technology hub that is developing VW Group software for all new models of the Cariad division.

  • Audi facilities on site include a new Vehicle Safety Center with a large internal hangar for crash test work.

  • The Ingolstadt hub is also home to the Technische Hochschule Ingolstadt, which is working on connected and automated driving technologies.

After years of painstaking work, Audi has opened a new research and development site in its hometown of Ingolstadt, which will develop software for the automaker’s next generation of electric cars.

Dubbed simply incampus, the technology park will serve as home to Cariad, the VW Group’s in-house software division, as well as Audi’s new Vehicle Safety Center, while also hosting a number of other companies and institutions including the Technische Hochschule Ingolstadt.

And the site itself is perhaps emblematic of Audi’s electrification revolution, with the company having spent seven years in soil remediation efforts on the grounds of the technology park, which formerly housed a refinery.

This month marked the completion of the construction project, but Cariad has been based here since 2020, with 2,000 employees working on software for several VW Group brands, including Porsche. This software will be included in Premium Platform Electric (PPE) models that will be sold under the Audi and Porsche brands.

“Together with Audi and Porsche we are developing the electronics architecture 1.2 here, the most important software architecture of the Volkswagen Group for the coming years. We use modern work processes and tools for close collaboration and greater speed,” said Peter Bosch, CEO of Cariad.

If the name Cariad sounds familiar, especially in combination with the PPE architecture, it’s probably for less than good reasons. Delays that occurred at Cariad at the beginning of the decade delayed the production debut of the PPE models by approximately whole yearsand they also reportedly played a non-negligible role in the surprise departure of VW Group CEO Herbert Diess in June 2022.

a view of the project house on campus

The new tech hub is home to VW Group’s Cariad division, which has been in the news in recent years mostly for delays in software development, as VW has openly admitted it is lagging behind Tesla and others in this field.Graeme Fordham

As a result, Cariad’s progress was a top priority for new VW Group CEO Markus Oliver Blume, who had been CEO of Porsche since 2015.

To be fair, the Cariad Division was given several monumental tasks in a very short span of time, tasks that would have required several separate companies. Cariad is not only in charge of developing automated driving, but is also working on technology platforms, digital driving experience, AND cloud services for all VW Group brands simultaneously.

But the largest building in the new technology hub, a quarter of a kilometer long, will house Audi’s new Vehicle Safety Center, with crash test facilities inside set up to recreate a series of accidents.

“For example, there is a crash arena integrated into a 50 x 50 meter pillar-free space. Cross-crash lanes enable test configurations that include vehicle-on-vehicle collisions,” the automaker notes.

The Technische Hochschule Ingolstadt, meanwhile, has a smaller two-storey building on the new site, which houses a laboratory for digital testing of automated and connected driving – another important goal for the automaker in the coming years as higher levels of Automated driving continues to debut around. the globe. The Automated Driving Alliance is also based in the new technology park, with Bosch and Cariad as partners.

Rapid rear-end collision, the deformable mobile barrier hits the vehicle at 80 km/h

Audi’s new Vehicle Safety Center has large internal hangars for crash testing vehicles, as well as other laboratories.Audi

The new hub wouldn’t be modern without concerns about energy consumption. The site has an energy control center to collect excess heating and cooling energy (volume up to 3000 cubic meters), while the technology park imports green energy from outside the site.

But in the future, the campus will seek to produce as much renewable energy as it actually uses, thus further reducing its carbon footprint.

It remains to be seen whether Cariad will be able to catch up in the coming years, not only in the product timeline of DPI architecture cars, but in software as a whole. VW has admitted on several occasions in recent years that the automaker has lagged behind Tesla and others in developing the software that has become central to electric vehicles.

VW Group also wants to catch up on automated driving technology, another sore point for Audi in recent years, following abandoned plans to introduce Level 3 automated driving in its flagship sedan. But for now, bringing new EV models out of development and into production is the automaker’s primary goal.

Audi should try to introduce SAE Level 3 hands-free, eyes-free technology in its vehicles in the coming years, or is this technology now too problematic to be useful? Let us know what you think.

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