Automaker competition long centred round the power of their engines. Now a different kind of power is fuelling the race: computing. New Audi CEO Markus Duesmann is assembling a team of about 200 engineers within the Volkswagen Group to accelerate their pace.
Named Project Artemis—after the ancient Greek goddess of hunting—the goal is to blow past Tesla, widely viewed as the industry leader in software. Duesmann admits that at the moment “When it comes to digitalization we are lagging behind for now”
In the past, bigger cars with more powerful engines were considered inherently superior, but now computing power and intelligence will be crucial stats for defining what is premium. Increasingly automated vehicles need better, faster, more versatile processors and software operating systems to analyse sensor and camera data and driver performance.
“Technical development of vehicles is no longer organised according to a vehicle’s size, but by the car’s electrical and electronic architecture,” Duesmann says. Premium and high-value models will now differentiate themselves by computing power and equipment.
Project Artemis will be led by Alexander Hitzinger, who was responsible for autonomous driving at VW and built up the Porsche racing team that won the Le Mans endurance race in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Previously he worked at Apple, where he set up and managed product development for autonomous vehicles. The Project Artemis team will leverage the engineering expertise within VW Group, as well as bringing in partners from outside the Group. “The result will be a common concept which is scalable for all of us,” Duesmann says. “The first model will be an Audi”.