At the invitation of Porsche, we visited their factory in Leipzig and the newly opened digital laboratory in Berlin. We share our impressions and talk about the plans of one of the world’s leading automakers.
High tech as
Great results start with great quality expectations. Porsche specialists check the geometry of the body and gaps, paintwork and many other parameters using the most accurate, expensive measuring instruments, without which it is impossible in principle to notice a discrepancy with the standard. But without what until recently seemed fantastic, today the production of cars like Porsche is unthinkable.
For example, one of the innovations used is the light booth. The car drives into a special room, where, due to two optical sources, it is illuminated from different angles and photographed from all sides. This method allows you to display all the errors and deviations related to it on any selected body part. That is, before handing over to the client, the car must pass through the light tube, so that quality control specialists can make sure that there are not the slightest deviations, for example, in the joints. Also, this system allows you to identify paintwork defects that are invisible to the eye, determine whether the correct shade of color has been selected, etc.
No less interesting is the technology of acoustic imprint. During testing, each car is checked for audio abnormalities while driving. It’s easy to hear noticeable rattles in the cabin, but if the wrong sound comes from, say, the trunk, it’s much more difficult to understand which part is not perfectly fitted. For this, a special acoustic measuring system is used, which is installed inside the car. The software shell is launched, after which measurements are taken at certain points.
On a straight line, say, wind and engine noise are measured, rattles are determined on a certain surface, etc. The data is transmitted to the factory in parallel with telemetry information on the car (engine parameters, speed, pressure, etc.), after which it is immediately sent to the factory system. While the car is still on a test drive, the obtained parameters are checked against the reference ones. At the same time, specialists can see in which driving mode this or that noise appears, and can quickly fix the problem.
Finally, an equally exciting system used in Porsche today is augmented reality. Previously, each error was noted on the car using special stickers. Today, augmented reality allows quality engineers to put on VR glasses and see all the errors detected by the measuring equipment right on the car, quite clearly. This is necessary, of course, not only to get rid of stickers. The fact is that this system allows you to hold remote meetings with suppliers of certain parts (for example, the same headlights) – they will see in their glasses the same thing as employees at the factory. And therefore, you can avoid wasting time on business trips to discuss the identified errors. And the faster the error will be eliminated.
Everything is connected to everything
To enter the digital future, Porsche hired Thilo Kozlowski, who has worked at Gartner in Silicon Valley since 1997. And then they opened the Porsche Digital Lab in Berlin. It is Berlin that today, as the head of the digital laboratory says, is a “hot spot” on the high-tech world map. So where else to look for inspiration, if not here?
The challenge facing the digital division is truly global. It’s no secret that everything is connected to everything. And the goal of Porsche is to make sure that at the center of all these relationships for a person is his car. Those who believe that this is only a means of transportation are hopelessly behind the times. Today, and especially tomorrow, a personal car is an office, a living room and a car at the same time. Therefore, it is necessary to study and test innovative information technologies on a daily basis in order to put them into practice in the future.
Thilo Kozlowski says that Porsche is designed to improve the quality of life of its owner. Soon the car will know what kind of lifestyle you lead, what places you visit, what restaurants you prefer… Moreover: the car should know what you would like to do on the weekend in order to make you an interesting offer and thereby inspire you to new achievements!
This is a global challenge. But we must not forget about the many small worries that Porsche must save its owner from. For example, the development of smart home technologies will lead to the fact that the machine itself, knowing your preferences, will control heating, lighting, alarm systems and other functions of a house or apartment. Or, say, if you drive into a parking lot, the system should completely save you from the hassle associated with payment and parking. The barrier will go up, and Porsche will find a free spot, park itself, and pay automatically at the end of the month, so these problems can be forgotten once and for all. Such technologies are financed by Porsche – for example, the startup Evopark is dedicated to these solutions, in which the company has invested a seven-figure sum.
But at the same time, a sports car must remain a sports car. How can high technology help here? For example, one of the ideas is to give amateur racers virtual pilots showing the ideal trajectory on the race track. So, at the Nurburgring, virtual Walter Röhrl and Mark Webber can become your instructors!
In other words, a Porsche car should give the owner the opportunity to feel cared for. And, of course, he must take care of all the owner’s routine worries, while understanding what he really needs. The car of the future will be able to predict the desires of the owner, becoming an indispensable assistant. And for Porsche it is quite real. Who will doubt that these cars have a soul? The point is small – to make them smart.