Volkswagen dubbed “most innovative car company”


The reasoning of the Cologne-based CoA is that, for the third consecutive year, VW was able to increase its innovative activities relative to its competitors.

One of the focal points of these innovative activities is Volkswagen Group Research – where the ideas for the world of tomorrow are developed in co-operation with all of the Group's brands. More than 700 researchers work for the company in Germany, the US, China and Japan.

One theme that stands out as a central focus is the use of intelligent electronics to help improve the safety, dynamics, economy and ecological balance of vehicles, with a continuous effort to network the car more intensively to its environment, to other vehicles and – via intuitively operated human-machine interfaces – to the drivers themselves.

The Group showcases a line-up of its latest innovations once a year at its Research Day.

Bundled technologies for production: The recently launched Passat CC can bring together more assistance and vehicle dynamics systems than any other model …

Lane assist and chassis control: Lane Assist was initially introduced as "Lane Departure Warning" at Research Day in 2004, and the "DCC adaptive chassis control" system was presented on a Passat prototype named CARmäleon at Research Day 2007.

Park Assist and distance control: Park Assist, initially presented at a driver assistance systems workshop in 2004, is now offered on the Touran, Tiguan, Passat sedan, Passat Variant and the new Passat CC. Also debuting as a research project is Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), an automatic distance control system now offered on the Phaeton, Touareg and all Passat versions.

The new Passat CC marks the first time that Lane Assist, DCC, Park Assist and ACC can be ordered together as bundled technology.

PyroBrake: The pyrotechnically ignited PyroBrake becomes active when nothing else will work and an accident is about to happen. The system can initiate emergency braking within 80 milliseconds, thereby reducing the impact velocity by 5km/h on average. The PyroBrake is being presented on a Passat and a Golf.

Accident research: Volkswagen Accident Research analysed the potential of the electronic stabilisation program (ESP) ten years ago. Based on the positive results, the Golf was launched in Europe with ESP as standard equipment later that same year.

Electronic test driver: KART is a type of electronic test driver that helps to perform certain driving manoeuvres and reliably test pre-crash systems much more accurately and quicker than before. This optimises test results and shortens development time.

Parking assistants: Some assistance systems protect against minor fender benders, or simply help when things literally get too tight. Park Assist Vision guides a Passat prototype with millimetre precision into narrow diagonal parking spaces. Parking Garage Assistant protects the car from dents and the driver from costs, because the system continually acquires its surroundings (360 degrees) and within its technical limits informs the driver if the car comes too close to an obstacle.

Accident avoidance: The car's immediate surroundings are also a theme of the AKTIV research project, where the focus is on "integrated transverse guidance", a technical working title for a practical network of driver assistance systems. A stereo camera, radar sensors and navigation data evaluation help to prevent the car from coming too close to either the roadway shoulder or opposing traffic. It has the ability to avoid one of the most frequent types of accidents.

Driver overload: The Peripheral Vision Field / Fuzzy Perceptions project is working to counteract information overload of the driver. Here, information is projected onto the outer borders of the windshield, and the driver is able to perceive this information without needing to consciously focus on it or be distracted by it.

Networking: An important aspect of competitions such as the DARPA Urban Challenge is Car-to-X communication, with the underlying objective being to network the car with its environment. The car accesses information from other vehicles or the traffic infrastructure to analyse what is happening on its route in real-time. This will make car driving safer, more efficient and interesting in the near future.

Autonomous driving: The cars of tomorrow will be able to see and pay attention to one another in traffic. VW has proved this in the DARPA Urban Challenge – a competition in which intelligent, autonomous vehicles had to drive in simulated city traffic without a driver and without mistakes. "Junior". A Passat prototype, took second place in 2007, and "Stanley", a Touareg prototype, took first place in 2005.

Automated where practical: Wherever it makes sense, certain situations could actually be fully automated, especially where there is an increased risk of accidents, such as in stop-and-go traffic on the freeway. Volkswagen Group Research is studying these situations on its Intelligent Car (I-Car) project.

Intelligent assistance systems are currently revolutionising car driving, because they not only improve safety and comfort, they also increase the "fun factor".

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