Poster 1

Well connected

The mobility service provider Uber has acquired the startup Otto, which develops technologies for autonomously driving lorries. BMW and Sixt are working together on the DriveNow car-sharing service.
And ZF is cooperating with Nvidia. The digitalization of mobility and logistics is creating new NETWORKS that are overcoming the traditional boundaries between sectors.

John Krafcik, the CEO of Google’s automotive subsidiary Waymo, presents the new Chrysler Pacifica, which contains more Google technology than any other automobile

Not so long ago, automobile managers preferred to be an exclusive club. When they met at international motor shows, they talked about engines and horsepower and discussed their most recent sports car races. They remained rivals, of course, but they nevertheless considered themselves a select community: red wine and cigars in Geneva in order to greet one another and hold pleasant talks.

Although these managers still talk mainly about cars, they no longer mingle with just their own kind. Since cars aren’t just a means of transportation any more, they are being transformed into mobile devices, computers on wheels, infotainmen centres, autonomously driving robots and mobile IT centres. This development is causing quite a stir in the sector.

This was clearly demonstrated in Munich on a Sunday in mid-January. BMW Board of Management member with responsibility for Development Klaus Fröhlich, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich and Amnon Shashua, founder of the Israeli camera specialist Mobileye, came on stage at the Digital Life Design (DLD) conference. Fröhlich, who was the only car guy among them, said that “nobody is as clever as everyone else together.” Although this statement sounds humble, it is actually very sensible, because the cars of the future will require automakers to cooperate with a wide variety of partners and obtain know-how from all sides.

To make this possible, companies are currently forming partnerships that would have been unthinkable in the past. Waymo, a subsidiary of the Google parent company Alphabet, is responsible for the Group’s autonomous driving activities and is now working together with Fiat Chrysler. Together, the partners are currently converting an initial fleet of minivans into autonomously driving vehicles. While Google supplies the sensors and computer software, the people at Chrysler make sure their cars can incorporate the new components. However, some automobile managers are sceptical about such developments. Why should there be a major partnership with Google, of all things? Yet it can’t be denied that such a collaboration is in tune with the times.

We need to work together

Klaus Fröhlich, BMW Board of Management member with responsibility for Development


BMW, Intel and Mobileye are three very different companies that exemplify a development that is currently sweeping through the sector. BMW plans to put autonomously driving cars on the road in 2021. To do that, the automaker needs the expertise of IT companies. Intel produces the computer chips and Mobileye supplies the technology that enables cars to see traffic, roads, pedestrians and everything else they encounter. “We urgently need a collective approach and an open platform for the development of autonomous driving,” says Fröhlich.

Although the three big rivals BMW, Audi and Daimler on the premium market have been trying to differentiate themselves from one another for decades, they are now sharing digital maps, without which autonomously driving vehicles couldn’t navigate. Their top priority is to maintain their decades-long dominance of the automotive sector. But this transformation is doing more than just costing the automotive industry billions, a company like BMW isn’t an IT startup from Silicon Valley, no matter how many managers swap their ties for hoodies. Moreover, computer chips, sensors and smart cameras aren’t part of BMW’s core business. But traffic will grind to halt without these systems in the future.

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ACTIVE: Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has purchased a stake in a logistics startup and is cooperating with Daimler

The question is not wether platforms will be introduced,
but who will
control them in future.


A lot of money and know-how will be needed in future, which is why John Krafcik, the CEO of Google’s automotive subsidiary Waymo, likes to point out at every opportunity that the aim is to create a “safe technology platform” for autonomously driving cars.
The question is no longer whether there will be such technology, business and human resources platforms in the future, but rather who will control them. It’s already clear that automakers have accepted this challenge and are taking the offensive. They are cooperating with IT companies to prevent other IT firms from expanding into their fields of business.

That’s what the three-way cooperation between BMW, Intel and Mobileye seems to be: an alliance against Google. What would happen if there are serious mishaps or accidents just because the IT doesn’t work properly? Although such a development might not affect the broadly based IT giants very much, it would ruin the automakers’ good reputation that has been built up over several decades. And what would happen if the automakers should one day end up being only responsible for the vehicle bodies — the shell, as it were, for Google’s and Apple’s flourishing data business?

Experts are already forecasting that in the future the really lucrative business will be done after a vehicle has been sold. Companies will make money from the data that a vehicle produces. Automakers are looking for completely new ways in which to make money ranging from car-sharing and parking services to taxi apps and infotainment and thus intruding into the domain of the IT firms.

These days, automobile managers often express a view that is meant to exude self-confidence. They say it’s easier to install software into a car than to build the car itself, and that the Silicon Valley companies would be hard pressed to build good cars themselves.

Text: Thomas Fromm, Photos: Getty Images; Illustrationen: Carolin Eitel/WILDFOX RUNNING

Read in the print edition how Mamatha Chamarthi is champoining digital change at the car supplier ZF.

Poster 1


In 2015, CHRIS VALASEK AND CHARLIE MILLER showed it was possible to hack into a moving car. The stunt alerted the automotive industry to the topic of data security and landed Valasek a job with the transportation company Uber

Chris Valasek (right) went on to work for employers such as IBM and the data services company IO Active before joining Uber

First of all, they turned up the air conditioning and the car stereo, then they switched on the seat coolers. Finally, they cut the engine and let the car coast to a halt somewhere on the interstate highway in St. Louis. Chris Valasek and his colleague Charlie Miller had taken control of a moving vehicle. And there was nothing the guy behind the wheel could do about it.

The history of data security and connected vehicles can be divided into two parts: the eras before and after the spectacular Jeep hack in 2015. Valasek und Miller provided a striking demonstration of just how vulnerable automobile systems are. “I’d been hacking computers for years, and one day I said to a friend that it would be really cool to try hacking into something bigger, like a car, for example,” Chris Valasek explains at the Connected Mobility Roadshow in Austin, Texas. “I was a really bad programmer,” he says with a laugh. “That’s what put me on to hacking. And then it was just like being a junkie: I was always on the lookout for the next high.“

Valasek and Miller’s first car hack was a Ford Escape. “It had electronic parking, collision warning and cruise control. All of these systems are computer-controlled. So we thought, where there’s a computer, there’s a computer we can hack.” That was back in 2013, when they also took control of a Toyota Prius. In both these cases, however, they were sitting in the rear of the vehicle.


At this point in time, both Valasek and Miller were in regular jobs and devoted weekends to their hacking activities. In 2015, Valasek’s employer, the data security company IO Active, provided them with a Jeep Cherokee. At the time, this was, in their opinion, the easiest vehicle to hack. Valasek and Miller accessed the Jeep’s onboard IT via the Uconnect system, which controls the vehicle’s infotainment electronics. This is the system responsible for controlling the navigation system, stereo and also smartphones. Today’s vehicles tend to offer even more opportunities. “Most cars now are totally connected,” Valasek explains. “Bluetooth for phone, radio transmitters for tyre pressure and vehicle positioning via smartphone.”

Back in 2015, he and Miller used a smartphone and a laptop to hack the Jeep and control it at their will. At the wheel sat a friend, Wired journalist Andy Greenberg. Their demonstration had decisive consequences: Fiat Chrysler recalled 1.4 million vehicles, and data security was suddenly a hot topic for automakers, IT companies and legislators. The day after Greenberg’s article on the Jeep stunt appeared, the US Senate introduced legislation to establish standards as to how vehicles should be protected against hacking.

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Any modern vehicle can be potentially hacked. Automakers must ensure they are secure.

Chris Valasek, Uber Advanced Technology Center

And there were also repercussions for the hackers themselves: both Valasek and Miller were hired by the transportation company Uber to work at its Advanced Technology Center. Today, Miller works for Chinese rival Didi Chuxing, and Valasek is Head of Security at Uber. Valasek is sure there is a future for autonomous cars.


Of course, they are also vulnerable to attack. “Any car with this technology can be potentially hacked. That’s why manufacturers mustensure they are secure,” Valasek emphasises. After the Jeep hack, none of the automakers approached him or Miller to have them check the security of their vehicles.

According to a study by the management consultancy company McKinsey, 30 per cent of automakers work with hackers in order to identify security gaps. And companies such as Tesla and Fiat Chrysler now offer so-called bug bounties for hackers who report glitches in vehicle software. It’s a practice that Internet companies such as Google and Facebook have been following for years.

Text: Heinz-Jürgen Köhler, Michael Seitz;  Photo: Whitney Curtis, 2015 /

The hacked Jeep rolled to a ceremonious halt in a roadside ditch without injury to any persons involved


Modern vehicles have a mass of
NETWORKED TECHNOLOGY that can be manipulated by
hackers — a major challenge for manufacturers

 Image by Dan Taylor / Dan Taylor Photography, Andy Greenberg /, Shutterstock

Read in our blog about risks to the safety of vehicle occupants.

Poster 1


How do logistics bridge the notorious “last mile” to the recipient’s front door? That’s the topic addressed by PROF. UWE CLAUSEN, a Fraunhofer Institute researcher and the chief scientist of the future study “The Last Mile” at ZF, and robot developer HELEN KAARLEP.

Helen Kaarlep heads the testing department of the London-based startup Starship Technologies. Kaarlep, an industrial engineer from Estonia, has supervised pilot tests in Düsseldorf and Hamburg as well as tests for the Swiss Post, in which robots delivered packages to recipients’ front doors.

Professor Clausen, you’ve produced a major study called “The Last Mile”. Ms. Kaarlep, your company builds delivery robots, which are named in the study as one transport option. What were your approaches in these two areas?

Clausen: On the one hand, we were confronted by developments that have been trending for a long time now and can be extrapolated into the future. On the other hand, we were looking at developments — including delivery robots — that didn’t exist last year. The factors that are changing the last mile and the solutions for dealing with it are the framework conditions prevalent in large cities. They include air pollution control, the requirements regarding battery-electric vehicles and demand-related questions such as: What kind of service ideas exist? Do people want same-day delivery? This is a new type of logistics that can process data very rapidly.

Kaarlep: When we developed our delivery robots, two aspects were important. We had a team that had developed robots tasked with collecting and returning planetary soil samples for the NASA contest “NASA Centennial Challenge”. We thought about where else this idea could be implemented. It arose from a particular spirit — some of the founders of Starship Technologies had developed Skype, which is a disruptive communication technology. They wondered in which industries no disruption had taken place as yet.

What’s the idea behind the delivery robots?

Kaarlep: In this initial phase, we’re doing business with the idea itself. The robots are only a means to an end. We’re building them and teaching them how to function on the street. This is a logistics concept with a background in robotics. Our robots are 99 per cent autonomous, and if something unexpected happens, they can hand over the controls to a human being.

Clausen: Delivery robots are a response to a demand orientation and the call for greater flexibility in terms of time. We’re dealing with consumer behaviour that is not evenly distributed throughout the day.

Where, and for which goods, can these robots be used?

Clausen: It’s not efficient to send out such small robots over distances of 40 or 50 kilometres. You need a certain delivery density and an infrastructure. And of course you also need acceptance by the public. As a result, a number of questions definitely have to be addressed before delivery robots can be put into regular service.

Kaarlep:  In our studies of public acceptance, we found out something amazing during our field trials. Between 80 and 90 per cent of people ac-tually completely ignore the robots. And the people who give them a sec-ond look react surprisingly positively. Our robots can transport payloads weighing up to ten kilograms. They deliver packages, food and ordered meals. These are the three areas we’re working on at the moment.

Mr. Clausen, you’ve calculated that robots could deliver around 400 million packages a year in Germany. How did you reach this figure?

Clausen: We tried to estimate the size of the market. In relation to the number of households in Germany, which is about 40 million and in-creasing, that’s ten deliveries per year and household on average.

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As transport logistics specialists, we want to address these topics systematically

Uwe Clausen, Universität Dortmund

What kind of infrastructure is needed in order to have robots deliver goods?

Kaarlep: Our concept involves having a flexible area where we can store a large number of robots and recharge their batteries, and from where they can be sent out to deliver goods.

Clausen: Having this kind of infrastructure makes the last mile shorter. So we will acquire more locations, and of course we need a logis-tics system to supply them in accordance with demand. That will generate new routes, and we will then transport goods along these routes with bigger units.

Ms. Kaarlep, do you regard drones as a con-cept that is in competition with your robots?

Kaarlep: No. Drones travel in airspace, which is a highly regulated area. They are great at de-livering goods in places our robots can’t get to: remote islands or high mountains. But at the same time, our robots can also do something that drones can’t.

Clausen: We also don’t know to what extent customers find it cool to receive a delivery via drone. There certainly are people who like using drones, but there are also people who find it un-pleasant or even threatening to have objects flying over their heads, so to speak. In addition, privacy has to be protected, and there’s also a risk of accidents.

Prof. Uwe Clausen is the Director of the Institute for Transport Logistics at Dortmund University and the Director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics (IML). Clausen, who had previously worked for Deutsche Post and Amazon, was the chief scientist of the “Future Study 2016 — The Last Mile” for the supplier company ZF.

There are new alliances in the logistics sector as well. Which important players you seeing are on the market?

Clausen: Amazon is an online retailer that is increasingly evolving into a technology and logistics company. And Starship Technologies, for example, is a startup that is developing a service and a technological device around an idea, or simply a need, and expanding it holistically. Here innovations are driven in equal measure by knowledge and experience on the one hand and a desire for innovation on the other.

Kaarlep: More and more multinational companies are rushing into the market. All of them want to solve the same problem: improving the delivery process during the last mile. Starship Technologies is a player that has the potential to revolutionize the same-day delivery process. For this reason, we are entering into partnerships with strong companies such as Daimler in order to develop innovative delivery concepts together.

Clausen: Cross-sector cooperation is certainly the key to a state-of-the-art concept of transportation and logistics. In many cases, the transport systems for goods and passengers use the same infrastructure, but people think about them and develop them separately. As transport logistics specialists, we want to address these topics more systematically.

We developed robots for NASA contest – and looked for new applications

Helen Kaarlep, Starship Technologies

Interview: Michael Hopp;  Photos: Nathalie Bothur, Willing-Holtz

Find out in the blog Driving News what innovative logistics concept Daimler has developed.