First person of Fiat Chrysler global design said that autonomous driving is not only going to lean on the vehicles itself. Ralph V. Gilles, Head of Design and a member of the FCA Group Executive Council (GEC) has an opinion that infrastructure need to be developed side by side with the technologies.
In order to achieve some progress and get to the point where autonomous driving will become reality, producers in auto industry will have to collaborate and work together with supportive industries as never before, Gilles said on the Chicago Auto show. “Everybody’s out there trying to do it alone… but I think it’s going to require unforeseen collaboration. How can competitive industries join together … to get things done?’’, he said during a keynote speech before the start of the manifestation.
Science fiction isn’t fiction anymore. Ralph Gilles says it’s happening
Talking on the Chicago Auto show, Gilles evoked past futuristic images from Hollywood and the current-day development of those technologies to show how technological hurdles can be eventually overcome. He cited as examples development of robotic limbs, like the one shown in The Empire Strikes Back in 1980, and what he called Hollywood’s first autonomous car, KITT, from the NBC show “Knight Rider” in 1982.
“Science fiction isn’t fiction anymore. It’s happening,” Gilles said. From a design standpoint, Gilles said electrification has freed designers across the industry to rethink the fundamental elements of the automobile, with wheels positioned on the very corners of the vehicle. But, he said, the technology-stuffed cars of today and those in the future are fundamentally changing the ownership model, as well as how those vehicles are designed. “Cars are getting more expensive because there’s more tech, so ownership is getting more challenging,” Gilles said. “The tech is not cheap, and it’s not free.” But, he said, safety technology — once the exclusive purview of luxury vehicles — is being democratized across all vehicles to increase safety. “Entry level cars are going to have this stuff,” Gilles said, ticking off tech advances such as on-board ultrasonic sensors, radar and ultra-high-definition cameras.
For designers, the key is to make all of the new safety technology visually attractive or invisible. Gilles showed images of past and current roof-mounted autonomous driving systems. “As a designer, I’m mortified by this stuff, but these are vehicles that are being adaptive, not vehicles that were designed around these systems. In the future, we’ll be taking all of that technology to design it and fit it in a much more attractive package.”
Gilles is the designer in Chrysler for already 25 years. He was appointed Head of Design and named a member of the Group Executive Council (GEC) on April 1, 2015. He has led the FCA – North America Product Design Office as Senior Vice President, a position he was named to in June 2009. Gilles has also served as President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) – Motorsports; President and CEO – SRT Brand and President and CEO – Dodge Brand for FCA US LLC. He was named Vice President – Design in September 2008. Previously, in 2006, he was Vice President – Interior Design Jeep/Truck and Specialty Vehicles. He joined Chrysler Corporation in 1992, within the Design Office.