Making the most of car time

A Tesla Model S which Bosch has converted into a test vehicle is one of the few self-driving cars with permission to drive on German freeways. On the basis of the experience he has gained so far, the project manager Michael Fausten shares his vision of how we will drive in the future.

with Michael Fausten, Vice President Vehicle Systems
Engineering and Automated Driving


“We want to develop automated driving for all types of powertrain.”

Mr. Fausten, how long have people been dreaming of automated driving?

Almost as long as we’ve had cars. Back in the 1960s, the science-fiction writer and futurologist Arthur C. Clarke produced a concrete vision of automated driving. In his book “Profiles of the Future,” he describes cars that choose their own route, know which route is fastest, and identify where there is traffic congestion. Automated driving also appears in the scenarios for the future that General Motors developed in the 1960s. In the 1980s, Mercedes converted a bus, packing it with cabinets full of electronics so that it could drive itself. Back then, people said it would take another 30 years until fully automated driving was a reality.  

Back in 1993, a Bosch research project showed that automated driving is technically feasible. Now you’re sitting in a Tesla test vehicle where all the necessary electronics fit under the floor of the trunk, and you could take a nap on the freeway. In five years, production vehicles will be capable of automated driving on the freeway. What are the drivers of this development? 


Surround sensors have become affordable thanks to technological progress and the fact that there is now far more demand for them. When we launched ACC adaptive cruise control in 2000, not even one percent of car buyers were prepared to pay a premium for it, partly because there was virtually no empirical data.

These days, we still don’t have the empirical data for automated driving. But more than half of buyers would be willing to consider it – provided the system can be turned off. In fact, a U.S. study suggests 20 percent would be willing to pay between three and four thousand dollars more for such a system.

1 billion
Driver assistance is a rapidly growing area of business, and will surpass the one-billion-euro sales mark for the first time in 2016. Unit sales of radar sensors alone will grow by 60 percent this year, and those of video sensors by 80 percent. 

What is the biggest social benefit of this new driving culture?

Automated driving is a perfect fit for our “Invented for life” ethos. With this new kind of driving, traffic jams will be a thing of the past: after all, automated vehicles won’t slow down to gawk at the scene of an accident. Nor will they keep changing lanes in an effort to get to their destination faster. Automated driving will save us time and energy that we can then put to productive use. It will also save fuel – as much as 40 percent if all vehicles are automated and able to travel in the slipstream of the vehicle in front. Automated driving is a way to ensure elderly people can continue to play an active role in society. In 2050, 25 percent of the population of Europe will be 65 or older, and the share of over-65s in Germany will have risen to more than 30 percent. And there’s another hugely important aspect: we will increase safety. Today, 90 percent of traffic accidents are the result of human error.  

What types of vehicles are you looking to automate first? 

We’re going to start with premium vehicles, for which we will offer both automated freeway driving and automated parking. Work has already started on installing the necessary technology in an initial batch of parking garages. The second target group is trucks, which in the future will be able to maneuver themselves around logistics depots. We’re also considering pods, the small driverless vehicles that Google is currently testing on roads in California. The idea is that one day, people will be able to hail these pods just like they do a taxi.


of all accidents are the result of human error.  

Besides automation, Bosch is also pushing forward with electromobility, although current forecasts suggest that this might still be some time coming. How are you planning to deal with this transitional period?

It’s primarily the engineers working on vehicle architecture who face challenges, since cars powered by an internal-combustion engine behave differently than electric vehicles. That’s why we want to develop a concept for automated driving that is independent of the type of powertrain installed. The electrical powertrain is coming – there’s no doubt about that. But the market for vehicles with an internal-combustion engine will continue to grow for the foreseeable future, as will the overall number of vehicles sold worldwide. Our forecasts suggest that internal-combustion engines will continue to be the predominant powertrain system well beyond 2025. 

Speaking of driving behavior: each country has its own traffic laws and rules. Doesn’t that cause you problems? Which markets are even an option? 

We’re first focusing on Europe, Japan, and the United States, and a little later we’ll add China. For each country, we have to make sure our systems consider the local driving style and the relevant rules – in the U.S., for example, vehicles also pass on the right. It’s the same story for infrastructure. In Germany, we have the problem that traffic lights are positioned on the roadside in front of the actual intersection, not suspended over the middle of the intersection. For this reason, we need a camera that can look upward at a steep angle.

Can you describe your personal vision of what will it be like to drive a car in 2030?

In the morning, my car will tell me when I need to leave to make sure I get to the office on time. I’ll use my smartphone to summon the car from my garage to my front door. On the way to work, I’ll be answering e-mails or watching the news on the screen installed in my car. I could also turn around completely and chat with the other passengers in a lounge-style setting. Or, I could move my seat right back, pull a folding table out from the center console, and do office work. But this is all still crystal ball-gazing; there’s no way of knowing how things will ultimately turn out.  

People have always associated the car with a feeling of freedom and driving enjoyment. With cars driving themselves at moderate speeds, how much of that will be left? 

The way we experience and value cars will certainly change. After all, we’ll find plenty of ways to use the time that our cars free up for us, either for productive work or for relaxation. But that won’t limit the potential for driving enjoyment. We’ll still be able to feel the thrill of freedom on high mountain roads just by switching to classic driving mode and doing the steering ourselves. Automated driving simply adds to the list of things that cars can do. It could well be that we will use vehicles for far more things in the future. 

Technologies for automated driving

The Bosch test vehicle based on a Tesla Model S is fitted with 50 additional components. Examples of the Bosch sensors used include long-range radar sensors, mid-range radar sensors, and a stereo video camera.


Step by step to automated driving

The driver assistance systems for the mobility of the future will gradually become increasingly widespread, resulting in greater safety for everyone

Drivers are given the support they need to reach their destination safely and without stress.

In certain driving situations, driver assistance systems take over the job of driving straight ahead and changing lane. They have to be permanently monitored by drivers.

Drivers can temporarily pass responsibility to the car. However, they must be prepared to reassume control at all times.

The system can deal with all driving situations. It does not have to be monitored.

Way1_mobile Lane-keeping support since 2010 Park steering control since 2008 ACC adaptive cruise control since 2000
Way1_mobile Remote park assist since 2015 Evasive steering support since 2015 Emergency braking assist since 2010
Way1_mobile Integrated cruise assist 2017 Traffic-jam pilot after 2016 Traffic jam assist since 2015
Way4_mobile Automated valet parking 2018 Highway pilot 2020 Highway assist 2018
Way5_mobile Autopilot after 2025