While in Trollhättan the development slides into the unknown, another Swedish manufacturer is testing the future. We remain true to the topic Apple iCar, look in the continuation of the article from Wednesday to Gothenburg.
Volvo gave a press conference on autonomous driving a few weeks ago. Exciting, and of course I got involved. Autonomous driving is a big topic, at first glance it is impressive what the Swedes have put on their wheels. At second glance, the euphoria is put into perspective.
The situation: the systems work on the city ring in Gothenburg. The road is multi-lane, the oncoming traffic separated by a Mittelleitplanke- so it likes colleague computer in the Volvo. Without separation, without multiple lanes, autonomous driving does not (yet) work. Also in snow, in poor visibility. If the sensors can no longer detect the lane markings, the system switches off. Man has to take over.
Navigation through narrow inner cities is also not (yet) possible for the Gothenburgers. Dangerous situations that suddenly appear have yet to be learned ... says Volvo. That should happen until 2017 - in order to be where the software industry is today.
Google is already sending its vehicles through downtown California - and it works. Why?
Because Google and Apple have resources and server capacity that you can only dream of in Gothenburg and elsewhere. The advantage in the field of infrastructure, the experience in the operation of data centers is hard to catch up.
The exciting question: where will Google and Apple be in 2017 with their dynamic development and almost unlimited resources? Where the vehicle industry 1.0?
Who actually builds the iCar?
It is unlikely that Apple could indulge in its own production. As with the other products, they will be built where they understand something.
Two rumors are circulating. A Bavarian radio station announced that BMW could build the iCar, and it could be based on a further development of the i3. Another source, picked up by Swedish media, sees Volvo as a partner. The unused capacities in China could thus be better utilized.
The likelihood that Apple will trust BMW is higher than the possibility that Volvo will partner with the Californians. BMW has already proven its expertise in new materials and alternative drives with the i3 and i8.
There is another alternative. An empty factory in Trollhatten, a company that would like to work as a contract manufacturer.
Chances for the design
A computer is a box, is a box. No more. Therefore difficult to design. Apple Lisa and Macintosh set standards, as did Power Macs. In 2001 Apple presented the Powerbook G4 ... the first Mac notebook with a metal housing. A principle that has remained true to this day. My powerbooks have a tough life and accompany me everywhere. When I take them out of service, they have seen many kilometers on planes, cars, trains and many countries. They then usually go to a new owner who continues to use them.
Apple delivers good design as well as high functionality. If Apple builds a car, you should expect high expectations. The iCar will not be a playful, driving egg like Google. But a valuable, functional multitool. A technically undercooled product, a Saab 9000 transformed into the present.
Just as Cupertino made the leap from plastic housing to metal in 2001, new materials could shape the interior. There are many ideas, as well as templates. Fisker used environmentally safe materials. Open-pored dead wood, natural leather. On request, the interior (vegan!) Could be configured free of material of animal origin. A southern German manufacturer copied some Fisker ideas for its electric car and was praised by the media for so much creativity.
Tesla took a 19 ″ screen and turned it upright. Cheeky and at the same time simple idea; no one has dared to do this before. Saab worked with glass elements in the interior for the 9-4x Concept and Aero X. Some of so much outrageous coolness almost flowed into the series, but failed because of the circumstances. Something similar can be expected from Apple, the undercooled tech brand.
Once the iCar has arrived in reality, it will change life in the metropolitan areas. Driving will not be as it was. The last refuge is conquered, man always and everywhere reachable. The interaction can no longer escape, companies will love the rolling consumer.
At the same time, driving is dramatically safer. Vehicles communicate with each other, warn each other, accidents fall drastically. Traffic jams can be avoided, traffic flows can be steered intelligently. A gigantic infrastructure in the background will keep vehicles and flood of data going, with all the risks and dependencies.
And there are new opportunities. For people who are restricted in their mobility, new possibilities for maintaining their autonomy open up.
At the same time, there are many unanswered questions: who will reliably maintain the rolling computer? Who do the updates and patches? Who will make sure that the iCar and its passengers are not hacked? Anyone who owns an iPhone has a rough idea of what attention an iCar might require.
Whether the journey into the future like, whether you pay the price, everyone will have to decide for themselves.
One thing is foreseeable: a countermovement will establish itself. There will always be people who see driving as a pleasure, as a hobby, or as a haven of human autonomy.
Rebels don't want car sharing 2.0 or a rolling computer. No paternalism, no excessive caring. You don't want to see the car as a throwaway product just because the latest OSX isn't running on the old platform.
These annoying individualists will be looking for the old, analog cars. The somewhere in the countryside, far from the metropolises, have survived by collectors and Consumption objectors. They will love an old Saab, they will want to take the wheel in their own hands. The consequence:
Ren glädje! Analog driving, controlled by a human being ...