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The future of the automobile is networked

The Network Effect video podcast | Episode 01

Dr. Clemens Ackermann, Deputy Managing Director at ARENA2036, talks next generation networks and building the car of tomorrow.


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The future of the automobile is networked

The premier episode of the Network Effect discusses how network technologies like 5G and 6G underpin the future of the automobile. Networked in every way, the connected car of tomorrow is only possible through collaboration.

How do you unite a loose collective of automotive competitors to work together on building the car of the future? In Stuttgart, Germany, Dr. Clemens Ackermann is the Deputy Managing Director at ARENA2036, says it’s about leveraging the Network Effect. In the premiere episode of The Network Effect, host Michael Hainsworth learns that the facility serves as a convergence point for 57 partners across multiple industries including giants like Mercedes-Benz, Bosch, and Nokia, to foster collaboration on future automotive technologies.

The unique environment at ARENA2036 allows competing manufacturers to work together towards innovations years in the future. "We're not trying to think of what could be in the car in five years,” he tells Nokia’s The Network Effect. “We're trying to envision what the car would need in 15 years plus," highlighting the long-term vision that underpins the projects at ARENA2036.

Instead of basing the construction of the vehicle on a 150-year foundation of automotive design and construction, engineers are starting from scratch.  One key area of focus for ARENA2036 is reimagining the car’s wire harness, which Ackermann describes as a monstrously complex component that has organically grown since we first started electrifying the automobile. The ARENA2036 wire harness is lighter and more suitable for automation, which is critical for future developments like autonomous driving. Ackermann provides a vivid picture of this initiative, stating, "We are trying to help the entire wire harness branch to start robotically handling the flexible parts, to build an asset administration shell for the entire wire harness, to think about different architectures for the wire harness to include glass fiber optics." In other words, networking the car.

Once you’ve reinvented the electrical network that drives the components, Ackermann says that network allows components to be digitally interconnected, making them capable of recognizing and adapting to each other’s functions. He explains, "They know what they are and what they're capable of, and with that knowledge, they're capable of self-description," which could potentially transform how vehicles are upgraded and maintained, moving towards a model where components are interchangeable, and systems are self-certifying. He says the auto industry will need a whole new business model once components can be mixed and matched like so many Lego pieces in a box.

Ackermann paints a future where automotive innovation is driven not just by competition but by collaborative foresight and interdisciplinary integration. ARENA2036 embodies this vision by creating a highly networked space where the boundaries between competitors blur in favour of a unified pursuit of technological advancement that will define the automotive industry in the decades to come.