LAS VEGAS —
The CEO of car maker Audi used his International CES keynote speech to stress his company is combining horsepower with processing power as German engineering meets Silicon Valley.
Rupert Stadler, also chairman of the board of management of Audi AG, added a touch of another part of California — Hollywood — to the speech as he was introduced by noted character actor James Cromwell.
Cromwell stated he starred in the 2004 science fiction film “I, Robot,” which envisioned a world populated with robots by 2035. He rhetorically asked whether Audi was creating a world of science fact rather than science fiction with its advanced auto electronics.
With that, Consumer Electronics Association president/CEO Gary Shapiro and Stadler drove onto the stage in an e-tron Spyder, a hybrid R8, a pretty spectacular-looking car no matter if it were packed with vacuum tubes instead of computers. Shapiro then introduced the 20-year auto veteran to the packed auditorium.
Stadler proceeded to detail how his company is working hard on electronics systems for the automotive world of tomorrow, including infotainment as well as driver- assistance systems. “Our plan is to integrate the best technologies from the best partners available and adapt these for the automotive world. And we intend to pick up the pace of innovation even further.”
He described an Audi “connected car” that would require virtually no local data backup within the vehicle; it would pull all its information — from music to navigation — from servers on the Internet via UMTS and, coming soon, via LTE.
One result of this new connectivity might even be autonomous driving, basically a car that drives itself. He showed a film clip of an Audi driving up Pike’s Peak, doing exactly that.
Also joining Stadler on stage was Jensen Huang, CEO of Nvidia, a company that provides graphics processors for many Audis. The chips enabled the first integration of Google Earth navigation and onscreen graphics in the A8, A7 and A6. Huang then demoed a prototype of the 3D graphics the newest chips were capable of.
Stadler ended by saying the “car of the future will be part of the mobile world. And that’s what we’re driving toward.”