Driven by digitalization and automation, the consumption of mobility, as we have practiced it for decades, is experiencing a historical caesura. We are in the middle of a new, multi-mobile age. It is no longer (only) about fast and effective travel from A to B. It is no longer exclusively about spatial locomotion, forms of propulsion or the use of means of transport. Sustainability, new energies, networked cities, intelligent transport systems, car-to-car communication, smart transport systems and unprecedented mobility concepts in combination with future technologies determine four major megatrends (electrification, connectivity, autonomous driving, new digital services) in today’s and tomorrow’s road, rail, air and beyond.

We must ask ourselves: Do mobility and technology companies take their responsibility seriously enough to turn these challenges into opportunities for a good and sustainable mobility approach? And how much more mobility does the next generation need?

Sporting mobility also means assuming responsibility

Hardly any other technology is so closely interwoven with the design and quality of life of the city as the automobile. For more than 70 years, Porsche has been a key driver in the development and production of sports cars. Today and in the future, it is therefore important for us to assume responsibility: not only for the construction of sports cars, but also for sporty mobility. If we want to put the future on the road, new technologies, new products, new competitors, new customers — and new rules apply.

We are experiencing an evolution of mobility. Digitization, 5G technology, electrification, connectivity — all these are happening simultaneously and, if you like, at full speed. The entire automotive industry is moving in the direction of technology and IT. Together with the Porsche Digital Lab and Porsche Digital, we form central interfaces that bring not only sporty mobility, but also tradition and experience from 70 years of sports cars into sustainable harmony with the technology of tomorrow. We call this #NextLevelGermanEngineering.

"Digitization, 5G technology, electrification, connectivity — all these are happening simultaneously and, if you like, at full speed." Anja Hendel

We do not want to play the physical and the digital world off against each other, no, they should complement each other meaningfully. As my colleague Stefan Zerweck aptly explained at TNW2019 in Amsterdam, we deliberately encourage this clash. We have sent a clear signal: our annual IT budget is now just under half a billion euros. Half of this is attributable to digitisation — sustainable digitisation, which must follow ethical principles.

We must open up in all directions

In addition to strengthening Artificial Intelligence (AI), we also invest intensively in human intelligence and attach importance to new competencies such as collaboration and teamwork, creativity and imagination, problem solving and critical thinking — but also software development and programming, in order to be able to live and work side by side with machines in the medium term. A great role model is my colleague Alissa Wilms from the Porsche Digital Lab, who combines diversity, youthful curiosity, creativity and a high degree of scientific and technical understanding of Quantum Computing.

At the same time, we must open up as a company, because we cannot manage tomorrow alone — especially with regard to new technologies and people who do not correspond to our mindset at all, but can contribute a great deal to changing ours. On the other hand, we need to take our own people with us on the journey, prepare them for collaboration and educate them digitally. Because it is clear that we cannot do without their skills. That is our foundation. And this also shows our understanding this year to step out of our comfort zone and into dialogue with conferences such as re:publica in Berlin, TNW in Amsterdam or NOAH in Berlin as strategic partners. The focus there was deliberately not on our cars but on our selected partners: our APX accelerator program, the platform High Mobility, HABA Digital, CODE University Berlin, the Porsche NEXT OI winners “Ghost — feel it.” or the Robotics startup Robonetica.

I am firmly convinced that we will need knowledge in the future, some of which is quite far removed from our previous core competencies. That’s why we need to build a strong ecosystem with competent partners. Over the past few months, Porsche has already brought many of these to its side — and we are looking forward to working with them. We are concentrating on investments in business models relating to customer experience, sustainability, mobility and digital lifestyle with a focus on future technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain as well as virtual and augmented reality. Current examples are the US AI startup, the Swiss AR experts of WayRay, which develop holographic head up display technologies, the Berlin startup Gapless, which digitizes vehicle histories by Blockchain or the B2B startup home-IX from Stuttgart specialized in smart living.

Porsche Next Open Innnovation Competition, Ludwigsburg, 2019, Porsche AG
Porsche NEXT OI Competition — finals in Ludwigsburg together with “Ghost — feel it.”

Ethical thinking in the development of modern technologies — also in mobility

The investments show us that smart technologies such as artificial intelligence have long since reached the automotive industry and are shaping a new form of mobility. It is up to all of us to use these technologies for a better world (and better mobility). Incidentally, this is a core idea of our current ideas competition “Mobility for a better world” at the interface of technology and mobility. We are looking for projects for a sustainable future in four categories (“Wheels”, “Trust”, “Cities”, “People”). An important principle: the meaningful use of technology. As early as 1996, MIT scientist Joseph Weizenbaum called for the introduction of “ethical thinking” in the development of modern technologies — he himself had a decisive influence on the first pioneer of the chatbot.

This demand is more relevant today than ever before. After all, the investment in and availability of AI has accelerated rapidly. Today, AI applications are already found in navigation systems in our vehicles and in smartphones, whose apps we network with mobility solutions from mobility services of all kinds. We encounter them in the form of chatbots and industrial robots. They select news and advertising messages for us, make suggestions for films, flights or even for the right partner.

But all this is just the beginning. AI will also help us fight disease and poverty, make better use of resources or control environmental risks — and enable mobility. That’s why we have to ask ourselves — even as an automotive group: how we can use the advantages of AI without giving up the protection of privacy. How can we avoid losing control over ever smarter and more powerful machines? And in which areas do we perhaps want to completely rule out the use of AI?

Ideas for a better tomorrow

Innovations for a better tomorrow — or as Stephan Grabmeier affectionately calls them in his blog parade: #Kopföffner — cannot be created in an ivory tower, but only through the networking of science and practice, through interdisciplinary cooperation — collaboration instead of coexistence. We would like to call this up. Because in order not only to test the future of mobility, but to actively help shape it, we are responsible and want to become a #Kopföffner for ourselves, but also for others.

It is our mission to explore the possibilities of new methods and concepts, to understand them in depth and thus to develop sustainable application scenarios that ensure a better tomorrow. We combine our tradition and the values of the company with innovative technologies and new products in a sustainable way. Our declared goal is to be the most sustainable sports car manufacturer in the premium segment and to decisively shape sports mobility — for the environment, people and their living spaces. In cities, on wheels, with trust and ethical thinking in technology — and made for us humans.


Text is written by Anja Hendel, Director at  Porsche Digital Lab Berlin

This article is a contribution to the blog parade “Kopföffner für besseres Wirtschaften” by Stephan Grabmeier. Further articles can be found under the Hashtag #Kopföffner and #FutureBusiness as well as in the comments to this contribution. For more details, get in touch with us on Twitter (Porsche Digital Lab Berlin, Porsche Digital), Instagram (Porsche Digital Lab Berlin, Porsche Digital) and LinkedIn (Porsche Digital Lab Berlin, Porsche Digital).