Posted on 21/02/2014

Autodesk continue to go head-to-head with RTT in the automotive design world. The latest release of VRED looks very impressive, with new features aimed squarely at the automotive design markets. It will be interesting to see how Autodesk's software-only offering fares against RTT’s software and services based business model.

The Autodesk Automotive Innovation Forum, held at Munich Airport, was very well attended with delegates from across Europe. The keynote speeches from industry luminaries Michael Robinson (ED design) and Frank Stephenson (McLaren) offered a fascinating glimpse into the future of automotive design. Each presentation was full of interesting sound bites, I was particularly interested in the idea that by 2040 steering wheels will be obsolete as autonomous cars become the norm. This idea was extrapolated by imagining a future where you could be travelling at 300kph on the motorway in perfect safety a few inches from the cars in front and behind while you chatted to friends or did work.

Safety was an important point for these guys. 1.5 million people are killed in road accidents every year; automation has the promise to reduce that to zero as well as solving the problem of gridlock by massively increase traffic density while maintaining super fast speeds.

Implications for car design are profound, if you do not need to see out of a vehicle then you don’t need glass. The driver (or should that be just be the passenger) doesn't need to face forward with cars becoming more like personalised train compartments all with clean, quiet engines and zero emissions.

The key question is, do we really want to relinquish control of the vehicles that we are so emotively involved with driving? 


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