Audi CEO Rupert Stadler delivers 2011 CES keynote speech

Audi CEO Rupert Stadler

At the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show today, Audi’s CEO Rupert Stadler delivered his keynote speech, outlining the work the brand is doing in infotainment systems and driver assistance systems that will improve safety and efficiency.

So what were Rupert’s main points? Well, for first he mentioned that Audi will continue to work hard to deliver new and exciting technologies in future vehicles including the next-generation MMI concepts, freely programmable instrument clusters and attractive advances in the head-up displays.

Second, Rupert said that a fully “connected car” from Audi would have no local data backup and would pull all its info – from music to navigation – from servers on the Internet via UMTS and, coming soon, via LTE 4G.

Other than that, Audi showed a new version of its e-tron Spyder concept and flaunted its “German engineering meets Silicon Valley” partnership with NVIDIA Corporation.

You can read Rupert’s keynote speech after the jump.

Audi Chairman Rupert Stadler Keynote Address at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas

Intro Narrated by James Cromwell, from I, Robot:

Six years ago, I appeared in a movie called I, Robot. It was science fiction.

A world where robots are everyday objects and live alongside humans.

Where sensors interpret data and respond to external stimuli.

Where cars drive themselves.

This was a vision of the world in the year 2035. It was science fiction … or was it?

Ladies and gentlemen, Audi is creating science fact.

Please welcome Consumer Electronic Association President and CEO Gary Shapiro and the head of Audi AG, Mr. Rupert Stadler.


SHAPIRO: James Cromwell is absolutely right. Science fiction is indeed becoming science fact. We see it every year at this conference, and every day in the innovative work being done by the members of the consumer electronic association.

As excited as I am to represent many talented members, I’m excited today to have a pretty im-pressive chauffeur: Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG.

Increasingly at CES, we’re seeing automakers showcase their latest electronic innovations.

That continues with today’s keynote. Mr. Stadler has been in the auto industry for more than two decades. So he knows where the industry has been, and is helping to shape where it is going. So please buckle up and as Rupert takes us on a ride into Audi’s vision of the future.

Thank you, Gary, and thank you James.

When I received the invitation to speak here this year, I thought: why don’t I bring a nice exam-ple of an electronic device made by Audi.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet the Audi e-tron Spyder concept car.

And let me tell you – with the ability to go from 0-60 in 4.7 seconds, the e-tron is quite the “kil-ler application.”

And it’s not just that the drivetrain is electric, this vehicle also is an information technology pio-neer.

The vehicle comes preloaded with software capable of pointing me to restaurants and attractions, so that when I plug it in to recharge it, it can calculate and display point-of-interest search results — good places to spend the time it takes to recharge the battery.

I won’t go do a full demonstration of that technology here, because I’m confident this car – if it knows what’s good for it – couldn’t recommend anything more compelling than listening to me for the next several minutes!

But what you’re seeing here is that the ideas of electronics, lifestyle and automobiles are becom-ing ever more closely tied.

In part, that is because mobility will require sustainability, especially in the future.

That’s why we’re investing heavily in hybrid and electric vehicles that meet the whole range of consumer driving needs. Whether it’s a family going on a long trip in the Q5 hybrid, or a busi-nessperson seeking sustainable luxury in an A8 hybrid, or an urban commuter in the A1 e-tron, or a performance enthusiast who wants to borrow a car like that – our goal is to provide sustain-ability for every segment.

But it is also because there is a revolution taking place — a revolution I would argue in which Audi has the pole-position – in automotive electronics.

Today, some of the most exciting innovations in consumer electronics aren’t the ones in your living room, or your office — they’re the ones inside your car.

These advances go far, far beyond electric drivetrains. They include navigation, infotainment, driver assist, and other cutting edge technologies.

These technologies have the potential to change the way we drive, making you even safer in eve-ry driving situation.

But they also now have the ability to link the way we drive, and the way we live – which until now have been totally separate.

In every other aspect of our lives, the internet and all it has to offer has become increasingly mo-bile.

For the first time, we’re making the internet mobile… in an automobile.

We are doing this by starting with our core competency of building great cars. We’ve been do-ing this for over 100 years.

Inside these great vehicles, we’re pioneering mobile internet computers – computers that are spe-cifically tailored for the automotive environment.

And then we’re investing in the development of appropriate and compelling software.

I’ll have more to say about each of these in a moment, but for now let me simply say that the re-sult is the full integration of the traditional automotive environment and the emerging mobile in-dustry.

Or put another way, we’re redefining what it means to be a fast computer!

And this has benefits for driver safety, and driver enjoyment.

We began with our friend from iRobot.

So let me return to the question: science fiction… or science fact?

This footage was taken three months ago.

This is our Pike’s Peak Autonomous TTS.

What you are seeing is the result of a joint project between Oracle, our Electronics Research Lab in Palo Alto, California, and Stanford University’s Dynamic Design Lab.

Our goal was for this vehicle to climb Pike’s Peak without a driver, taking hairpin turns at race-like speeds. And it did.

Now let me be clear: We don’t want to take away driving from the driver.

But what we learn from experiments like this will help us increase safety, decrease collisions, and remain open to whatever the future demands.

At this point you’re thinking – I, Robot is one thing, but Minority Report is something totally dif-ferent. You can’t prevent accidents before they happen, can you?

Again, sophisticated electronics – consumer electronics – are expanding our sense of the possi-ble.

In fact, the active safety features in many of our existing vehicles already go beyond what the Autonomous TTS has done.

For example, our vehicles now have the ability to notify you – by vibrating the steering wheel – when you’re drifting into another lane, or about to merge into another vehicle.

They also have the ability to prevent or prepare safety features for a collision – even if you aren’t anticipating the collision.

Our pre-sense technology can “sense” if you’re coming up on another car or a stationary object, and pre-tensions the seatbelts, rolls up the windows, loads up the brakes, and, if necessary, be-gins to stop the vehicle.

The same happens if a vehicle is coming up behind you too quickly.

Never has something that looks backwards… been so forward looking!

Or consider our augmented reality head-up display.

In our new A7, we offer this high performance head-up system with full color.

This technology allows for the display of information from the navigation system like speed and driving directions.

In the future, drivers will be able to experience a laser-projected augmented reality display. This will be able to mark traffic signs, distance warnings, or to display the navigation arrows in such a way that they appear to be actually pointing directly “on” the real streets themselves.

It will also be able to show infotainment lists. It will be controlled through our Multi Media In-terface – or MMI — and can be turned on and off.

This system is currently in the predevelopment stage.

Certainly technology like this makes driving safer.

But that is not the only benefit of technology that drivers demand. Consumers are demanding all that the Internet has to offer – they’ve come to expect it in all of their various devices. And they’ve come to expect new applications and new devices as soon as they become available.

The automotive technology platform has – until now – been more or less constrained by vehicle life cycles, which are about six or seven years. In technology terms, that’s multiple lifetimes.

This is not only frustrating to drivers, but it actually diminishes resale value – because even if the interior and drivetrain are flawless after many thousands of miles, the technology in the cabin feels old.

There are some who say: “Let’s just attach a smart phone or an iPad or a Flip camera, to the car and be done with it. Make existing technologies available in the car environment. Simple.”

But here’s the disconnect.

The devices I just mentioned are designed expressly to capture the user’s attention.

In a vehicle you want the exact opposite.

You want to minimize the input and attention required from the driver to get the information they seek.

While drivers seek greater information… drivers need functional integration.

So “bolting on” existing technologies isn’t the answer.

It reminds me of what Henry Ford once famously said:

“If I gave my customers what they wanted, I would have given them a faster horse.”

So we endavour to stay ahead of our customers. To not only give them what they want… but what they need.

That’s why Audi invented the MMI touchpad – to make accessing infotainment more intuitive.
I should add that the touchpad is able to recognize characters from the Asian languages, over-coming a traditional challenge for automakers.

We then paired our MMI touch with voice recognition – to allow for more driver choice… and less driver distraction.
And starting with the A8 this year, we’ve taken voice recognition even further – by introducing voice search for points of interest with Google. This combines the power of our onboard recog-nition with the cloud processing of the Google speech recognition and point-of-interest database.
We believe we have invented the most responsive, most intuitive interface out there. But you don’t need to take my word for it.

This month’s issue of Automobile Magazine had what they called an “Interface-Off” and found that, and I quote, “Audi continues to do in-car technology better than any other automaker… Physical controls and the innovative touch pad make complicated tasks easier and safer than in any other car.”

And later today, will present Audi with the Technology Breakthrough Award. In their words, this award recognizes technology that’s practical…intuitive…and offers exceptional value to consumers while making driving safer and more convenient.

But the best interface is only half the battle. We wanted the best interface… to deliver the best information.

We wanted to solve the disconnect between the mobile internet… and the mobile individual.

And we believe we have – in terms of both hardware and software.

To discuss the hardware advances, please join me in warmly welcoming Mr. Jensen Huang, Founder and CEO of our visual computing partner, NVIDIA.


Welcome Jensen.

You’ve arrived in our A8 long wheel base. It is the technologically most advanced vehicle you can buy today.

Virtually every advance we’ve just shown on this stage is in this car – PreSense, the MMI Touchpad, Google Earth… and additionally, it is also a rolling hotspot.

This car is already using an NVIDIA GPU for 3D graphics and a very responsive user interface.

I think it represents the beginning of a great partnership.


Tegra II Motherboard
Demonstrator with Mr. Stadler
Advanced Cockpit Design

But Rupert, when will we see the first Tegra 2 in action in an Audi?

Our engineers are leaving for the first test drives in Africa next week!

Well Jensen, let me thank you again for being here today. I can only agree with you. We are also very excited about the partnership with NVIDIA. It is a demonstration of what we live at Audi every day: Vorsprung durch Technik.


Ladies and Gentlemen, we already offer Google Earth in our cars. Now you’re seeing very de-tailed 3D roads and buildings as well… and even a 3D Streetview.

The appeal of 3D is that we’ve found that if things are presented more realistically, they require less driver attention, and limit driver distraction. 3D makes information more glanceable. So we’re excited about this, and we’re working to increase usability.

Let me add that, the hardware – as advanced as it is – is the architecture.

Software plays a key role in harnessing the power of this modular hardware design.

To this end, with the goal of strengthening our leadership in software design and reducing devel-opment and subsequent iteration cycles Audi has formed is a joint-venture with our long-standing Finnish partner, the embedded software spe-cialists at Elektrobit.

The vision for this modular hard-ware and software strategy is clear: to integrate best-of-breed technologies and partners and adapt them for the car world.

We want to accelerate the pace of innovation in automotive infotainment.

And we wanted to move Audi from being a customer that tells the supplier what to do, and in-stead move us into a position of doing… instead of demanding.

We began with an initial staff of 52 software experts in Human Machine Interface design, Real-time-Operating systems, and Multimedia.

Today, that has grown to 100 experts. And those experts have different backgrounds and differ-ent nationalities, but they share one thing: the ability to develop world class embedded infotain-ment software.

We’ve tasked with developing and integrating the multimedia and communication software stack for the high end multimedia systems – and they’ve approached that task with the mentality of a startup.

Already, the team at is seeing amazing possibilities – like integrating 3rd party apps, while pursuing Audi’s heritage and driver safety philosophy.

Much like Apple does for its systems, Audi will ensure that customer value-added software and apps also meet our stringent criteria for minimal driver distraction.

I hope to come back to this gathering in future years to demonstrate the work of!

In closing let me say that it is an honor to lead a company with over 100 years of innovative heri-tage… to see each new advance building upon the last. We never stopped being a mechanical engineering company, even as we added electrical engineering. And on top of that, we’re now adding software engineering.

At Audi, we love driving.

And we love that we’re taking the lead in matching horsepower with processing power.

The Latin word Audi means…Listen. In order to provide you with the best solutions, we’re al-ways listening to our customers, and to where the world is going.

Ultimately, we see a world where the car is connected – to the world of the internet, to other cars, to the cloud, to traffic and weather data streams.

It’s connected to technologies that increase safety and efficiency.

All in all, the car of the future is part of the mobile world.

In every sense of the word.

That’s the future we’re driving towards. And we look at our 100 years of history, and the ad-vances of today, and see them for what they are: a great start.

Thank you.

– By: Omar Rana