“The Next Leap in Mobility” – start of the Audi Urban Future Award 2014

“Future mobility is not a question of ideologies. The German car industry needs a concerted agenda with cities and local government. The mobility revolution is the great field of opportunity for the 21st century,” said Rupert Stadler, CEO of AUDI AG, at the opening of the i-Mobility congress in Stuttgart. He presented four theses which are being tested in concrete projects in interdisciplinary teams made up of architects, urban planners, mobility specialists, scientists and young founders of start-ups:

1. The boundaries between mobility and immobility are disappearing.
Progress means that our technologies benefit not only the automobile but also urban development. The task from now on is to plan innovations and the city infrastructure together.

In Boston the urban planner Philip Parsons is devoting himself to this theme together with the urban planner and designer Janne Corneil and the traffic planner Federico Paro­lotto. They will research how automobile technologies such as piloted parking can benefit the urban environment by making it possible to plan gains of space and efficiency in the urban infrastructure for the first time.

2. Reality and virtuality are merging.
Our cities must create interfaces to virtuality. In the Internet of Everything world, where all relevant objects are given an IP address, the car will communicate with all these objects, making our lives simpler and easier to plan.

In Seoul the ethnographer and experience designer Sung Gul Hwang, the designer Yeongkyu Yoo and Cho Taek Yeon, urban planner and professor at Hongik University, will investigate how the car can become the ultimate mobile device in a world of car-to-everything and everything-to-car. Conceived for trendsetters in Seoul’s fashionable Gangnam district, it is intended to be an interface to the digital city, a medium of social interaction and an entertainment machine at one and the same time. Audi contributes expertise from the fields of smart displays, Audi connect and design to the project.

3. Individuality and collectivity are not mutually exclusive.
With its individual features the car can close the gaps in the urban mobility system. The personal freedom of individuals and their responsibility for the community belong together – the one is a prerequisite for the other.

How the car with its individual characteristics can provide perceptible added value for urban mobility – this is the theme in Berlin. In the German capital the architect Max Schwitalla, the innovation manager of Schindler AG, Dr Paul Friedli, and the neuroscientist and biotechnologist Dr Arndt Pechstein will work out mobility proposals for connecting the Urban Tech Republic, which is to be built on the site of Tegel Airport. In this planning, innovations made by Audi, for example piloted driving, will play a leading role.

4. Sustainability and progress are not contradictory.
It is technological progress that enables us to make our cities more sustainable. Less noise, clean air, more space for living, higher quality of life – this is how we conceive the mobility of the future. Metropolises that were previously characterized by congestion and stressful traveling can be taken forward by means of new technologies.

In Mexico City information on traffic flows and mobility behavior will be analyzed on the basis of crowd-sourcing techniques by Jose Castillo, professor at Harvard; Gabriella Gomez-Mont, the head of the think-tank Laboratorio Para La Ciudad; and the IT scientist Carlos Gershenson.

The teams will work on their proposals until October. Then a jury with an international and interdisciplinary composition will decide which project is the winner of the Audi Urban Future Award 2014 with prize money of 100,000 euros.

The first Audi Urban Future Award four years ago initiated an open discourse on urban mobility. In a second stage Audi examined five cities and their specific problems; the winning entry resulted in operating instructions for mobility in cities. What began as a process without predetermined conclusions leads to an agenda for the urban mobility of the future in this year’s Award.

In the coming months all the nominated competition entries will be documented in detail on the website of the Audi Urban Future Initiative (www.audi-urban-future.com). In blog contributions the team members will also express themselves and report on the status of their projects in videos and simulations. “Many questions are still open, but we have extremely fruitful cooperation among team colleagues and are learning something every day,” says architect Max Schwitalla, who aims to connect the Urban Tech Republic (UTR) on the site of Berlin Tegel Airport to various traffic hubs in the German capital.