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VW electronic research lab moved to Silicon Valley

Top Volkswagen and Audi executives, Silicon Valley tech innovators, political leaders and educators converged today to celebrate the opening of the VW's new electronic research laboratory (ERL) location in Belmont. The future abilities of cars to process information and provide guidance on spending less time in traffic, saving fuel and even driving safer were demonstrated.
Posted: May 2, 2011 - 2:44PM
Author: Don Bain

Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, the ERL represents the entire Volkswagen Group in applied research and development with a mission to develop innovations and technologies for future generations of cars. They also find ways to transfer technologies from other industries into the automotive realm. The lab develops design and technical solutions to assist safe, convenient and intelligent interaction between the driver and vehicle information.

The ERL is a dedicated think tank for Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini and Volkswagen, focused on creating smarter cars and identifying new technologies. The Silicon Valley location allows the VW Group to work directly with the world's leading high-tech companies, start-ups and universities to develop applications for their vehicles.

The lab recently moved from Palo Alto to the current Belmont location, its third office in Silicon Valley, in order to support consistent growth since its 1998 founding. At the opening, the ERL hosted a Tech Day, involving demonstrations that provided a glimpse into the latest in automotive technology.

VW Group of America president and CEO Jonathan Browning was joined at the event by key officials including: U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo, Belmont Mayor Coralin Feierbach; and Rob Csongor, Vice president of Corporate Marketing for NVidia.

Also in attendance were professors from several institutions including the University of California, Berkley; the University of Southern California; the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute; the University of California, San Diego; Stanford University; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

"The Electronics Research Laboratory is another example of Volkswagen Group of America's investment in the U.S.," Browning said, adding that Volkswagen Group has made a significant multi-million dollar investment in the new facility. "The commitment of the ERL teams to automotive innovation will benefit drivers through safer, more eco-friendly driving experiences, prompted by the technological heartbeat of Silicon Valley. I am excited to help showcase the next generation of mobility today."

New Tech Demos
Human Machine Interface: recent efforts by the Human-Machine Interface team at the Electronics Research Lab have focused on designing innovative vehicle cockpits for Volkswagen Group's vehicles. Among the features are touchscreen/touchpad and display innovations creating a user experience allowing the driver to keep their eyes on the road as they interact with other features. Applications providing a wide array of communication, information and entertainment to rear-seat passengers are also part of the mix.

Infotainment Platforms: This team is developing systems that learn individual driving styles, preferences and schedules to provide personalized feedback about driving performance, desired points of interest and destinations, as well as recommendations for trip efficiency. This tool assist drivers in planning routes to avoid stressful driving, reserve parking spaces ahead of time and minimize dangerous driving situations.

Infotainment Applications: Building on the success of the Google Earth-based navigation system launched first in the new Audi A8 and the all-new Audi A7, the IA team adds Google Voice Local Search and Google Street View to the online navigation experience.

Driver Assistance Systems:
The DAS team is collaborating with Silicon Valley-based visual computing technologies company NVidia to create next-generation vision processing applications for powerful emergency assistance systems. The team is also working with Oracle to develop Java-based tools for increasingly complex software architectures. The team has partnered with Virginia Tech and Stanford University to continue co-development of advanced driver assistance systems.

"These types of innovations clearly show that our researchers are among the best and brightest tackling the problems of mobility today," said ERL Executive Director Burkhard Huhnke. "Our partnerships with universities, organizations and companies like NVIDIA, Google and Oracle are helping us focus on smarter, safer driving and next-generation technologies."