Lounge, bedroom or office – vehicle interiors of the future 

An interview with Emanuel Maier about vehicle interior designs of the future, autonomous driving, new application scenarios and the role of data cables in these developments.

Tech Talk is a series of interviews that introduce you to some inspiring personalities within and outside of MD and the world of technology, innovation, and more.

In this edition, we sat down with Emanuel Maier, Sales Key Account Manager for the Volkswagen Group at MD. We discuss his vision of the future for passenger compartments in vehicles, the role of data cables and online networks and the challenges for suppliers in this field.

Emanuel, please tell us a bit about yourself, both personally and professionally

My name is Emanuel Maier, I’m 36 years old, happily married and the father of two children, aged 5 and 1. As a family, we are currently in the middle of an exciting house construction project which means things like getting enough sleep and having spare time have temporarily taken a back seat!

After my family, my second passion is my work for MD as Key Account Manager in the exciting world of the automotive industry.

My work is a lot of fun. I get to experience the fascinating car world anew every day and the constant innovations and developments in the sector, tailor-made to meet the growing demands of end customers, really inspire me.

I see the present situation as an exciting turning point in the development of the car, particularly the passenger compartment. The idea of being allowed to shape this fascinating technological change until 2050 fills me with pride, a sense of excited anticipation and unhindered curiosity about what the future will bring.

Describe how you imagine the interior space of a totally normal vehicle in 2050?

The interior space will be optimized for autonomous driving. The steering wheel will be retractable to make more space – generally speaking, vehicles will be driving themselves, so it won’t be needed any more in 2050. It will be possible to move the seats, rotate them and tilt them backwards to create a communicative atmosphere like a lounge or a meeting room. Some vehicles may even have multi-functional equipment such as beds or reclining surfaces so that passengers can be completely passive on long journeys, take a nap and arrive well-rested at their destination. The interior space will also be increasingly dominated by large screens, and even the windscreen and windows could be used as interactive AR displays, showing navigation assistance, entertainment or information about the surrounding area. All these new functions will be target-oriented, allowing passengers to make use of their travel time in a more productive or relaxing way, depending on the reason for the journey and their time schedule, so that they can relax and unwind outside of working hours.

How do you think the further development of the onboard network will influence the design and user experience in the area of vehicle interiors?

The onboard network is the prerequisite for being able to take full advantage of the possibilities offered by the latest developments such as the 6G future telecommunication standard with data transfer rates of up to 400 Gbit/s. Completely autonomous driving is becoming a matter of course and as a result, increasingly complex interior space concepts are being achieved. And undreamed-of possibilities will open up if suitably powerful data transfer solutions can be made available. I’m imagining video conferences on large-scale 8K displays, cinema experiences with fully tinted windows, or completely new safety features such as the detection of medical emergencies among the occupants and the taking of suitable measures such as driving them to a hospital or notifying relatives. There are virtually no limits to the creation of virtual environments and scenarios, and to the integration of artificial intelligence and personal assistance.

What specific challenges are arising from these developments for suppliers in the area of the onboard network?

To begin with, for the onboard network area, these developments mean that a strongly increasing number of far more powerful data cables will need to be installed. The aim here is not just to use the available space efficiently and keep the weight within limits, but issues such as the conservation of resources will also increasingly move to the forefront in the future. Miniaturization and new materials are keywords here. Autonomous driving, in particular, poses tremendous challenges to the industry in the areas of latency, redundancy and safety – especially electromagnetic compatibility.

What is MD doing to prepare itself for this?

MD ELEKTRONIK is pursuing a strategy of combining partially and fully-automated production on machines developed and built in-house in order to be equipped for future developments. Automation will play a central role in the future production process. It ensures a high degree of speed and precision in order to meet the increasing demand for ever more compact data connections. The highest quality standards and traceability are also ensured by this production method which, particularly for all elements that enable autonomous driving, is a basic requirement.

The second pillar of this future strategy is high investment in our in-house product development which is geared towards future needs and technical requirements. For example, optical solutions are currently being developed for data transfer. This can fulfill higher requirements for EMC compatibility and transfer rates. In addition, copper is not needed for these cables which is a further advantage for mastering future challenges in times of increasingly scarce resources and rising demand due to electromobility.

Thank you so much, Emanuel, for this great interview!

A vehicle interior revolution will be impossible without further development of the onboard network

In coming decades, optimization of the interior space will be paramount for the self-driving vehicle. Everything will become multi-functional, equipped with features such as retractable steering wheels or interactive AR displays. Newly developed onboard networks provide the technological basis for this, giving rise to increasing challenges for the supplier industry in the areas of safety, quality, transfer rates and much more. MD ELEKTRONIK is reacting to these developments in various ways, including with automated production facilities and the development of new data transfer solutions – to turn the mobility of the future into reality.

Emanuel Maier

Emanuel Maier started his international career in the automotive industry at a German OEM in Munich, and his path along the supply chain took him to various stations in the UK and lastly to Silicon Valley in California for a well-known Tier1, before finally leading him to MD in Waldkraiburg, Germany. He has been working as Key Account Manager in Sales at MD ELEKTRONIK for approx. three years. In this position, Emanuel is responsible for looking after existing customers and acquiring new ones. He plays a key role in working with a well-known German OEM. As the link between the customer’s purchasing department and the in-house specialist departments, he ensures that the requirements in the area of customer-specific cable sets (CSC) are met.