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AI and digital technology are changing our cars in “CarDroids”

Dino Collazzo

Scudieri, Anfia president: “In the next few years, our vehicles will be able to fulfil our wishes"
Autonomous driving, connectivity and electric mobility are bound to play an increasingly vital role also in 2020, driving the changes that are affecting our four wheels. Component manufacturers who, given the recent entry into the automotive market of Hi-Tech giants, are perfectly aware of this and have begun to review their business plans and strategies in an attempt to become ever more competitive. According to Paolo Scudieri, president of Anfia. (National Association of the automotive industry supply chain), during this transition, Italian companies are called upon to enhance their structures, investing in technological innovation and training.

President Scudieri what is happening in the automotive sector and its supply chain?
"The automotive sector has always been driven by innovations. At the moment we are witnessing a technological skin change, and my mind goes towards vehicle electrification, autonomous driving and connectivity. All this will lead to the development of a new mobility, one that integrates and makes full use of different means and methods of transport following the individual needs of people. In short, this means that different technologies and power units will interconnect with each other".

What will drive this change?
"When I think of the current trends sweeping through the sector, EVs and autonomous driving will likely have a major impact on the future of mobility. How we consider our cars and the way we will use them will be different. In the next few years we will no longer be dealing with an object that moves on four wheels, but we will be looking at what I call a "CarDroid”.

What do you mean by "CarDroid”?
"Our vehicles will be increasingly complex. Electronics and AI software with high computing power, will connect cars with each other and with the world around them, enabling them to decide, according to our needs, where to go, what route to take and what information to give us about places, fulfilling our desires and satisfying our needs when we move". 

Manufacturing a vehicle of this type, however, involves the use of industrial technologies that have little in common with current production methods. Do Italian companies have the skills and resources to keep up with other countries?
"In our sector, a significant number of companies have long since begun to invest precious resources in research and development in addition to increasing collaborations with universities and specialized centres. This is certainly positive but it is not enough. A different entrepreneurial spirit is also needed, with a knack for developing new technologies and starting commercial partnerships with those who are already producing hi-tech parts, vital in manufacturing high performance components. All this in the quickest, safest and most reliable fashion, but above all in a rational manner". 

According to several analysts, one of the issues to consider is the risk of job losses. Can innovation and job retention be reconciled?
"These changes, starting in 2020, will usher in a decade of epoch-making changes, which will not spare the job market. On the one hand, new highly specialised professions will be created, while on the other, some will be excluded from this transformation. Currently, in Italy, the engine manufacturing sector relies on around 60 thousand employees. If we imagine a scenario in which the entire production is converted to electric units, we could expect to lose as many as 20 thousand jobs: an impressive number. I personally don't think that will happen. On the contrary, I think that electric mobility will develop and peak in urban mobility while we will continue to use other types of power units over long distances and therefore some of the current skills will still be needed for a long time". 

There is no doubt, however, that due to this transformation we will have to deal with jobs disappearing.
"In this case it is essential that companies, as well as public institutions, keep working on training and strategies aimed at leading the entire industrial sector towards a gradual change". 
 



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