Innovation

Before the first new vehicle leaves the Volkswagen Chattanooga assembly plant for America’s roadways, it already will have traveled 2.8 miles on the E-shuttle transport line, the first of its kind in the world. The finishing conveyor line is managed by 56 robots, which flip and dip the auto body into 10 water and paint tanks to coat and protect the vehicle. At the end of the four-level paint shop, the two hour process then finishes with a top coat and wax spray. “We’re the first in the world to use E-Shuttle,” says Rich Schmidt, Plant Engineering Manager, Volkswagen Chattanooga Operations LLC. “The old system required the unit to ramp into and out of the paint bath. E-Shuttle allows the body to be put straight down, turned 360 degrees, turned straight up and conveyed to the next bath. We’re able to reduce the tank size which results in less water, fewer chemicals and less energy usage.” Read more »

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In applying human factors research to new technologies in the vehicle, “we look at things from the user perspective, the human perspective,” said Brian Lathrop, Head of HMI, Cognitive Psychologist, Electronics Research Lab. “In designing any type of product for the vehicle, whether it’s applications on your instrument cluster, whether it’s touch-screen applications or a multi-media interface, that’s what we focus on…Our job is to understand how people use technology. We want to make sure we use it the best way, the safest way.” Thinking of how his mom or dad would drive today’s vehicles: “It’s important to understand how aging plays into using these technologies…You want them to drive the car in a safe manner. That’s important for me to figure that out.”

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The Vehicle Terrain Performance Lab at Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Virginia Tech) received the first Volkswagen Faculty Innovation Grant in 2010. The lab’s mission is to improve vehicle system performance by studying the interactions between vehicles and terrain. Selected from five proposals submitted by Virginia Tech, Dr. John B. Ferris, associate professor, Mechanical Engineering Department, and his students will focus on developing modeling and simulation techniques for “Location-Aware Adaptation of Vehicle Dynamics” under the year-long grant. Dr. Ferris conducted research in vehicle dynamics and chassis development in the automotive industry for 15 years before becoming a faculty member at Virginia Tech. Read more »

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View a recap of the VAIL opening ceremony at Stanford University, which includes interviews with Stanford engineering students, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s keynote speech and the VW Passat “Junior 2″ autonomous car demo. Read more »

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Dedication of Volkswagen Automotive Innovation Laboratory (VAIL) at Stanford

We are a proud sponsor of Apogee, Stanford University’s entry in the 2010 American Solar Challenge, a competition to design, build and drive solar-powered cars in a cross-country time and distance rally event. Teams from 17 universities worldwide competed in the 1,100-mile drive from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, to Naperville, Illinois, with Stanford taking 4th overall. Our support included providing the students with access to engineering expertise and mentorship from the researchers at the Electronics Research Lab, a Volkswagen Touareg as a support vehicle for the team, and financial support of $50,000 over the course of two years. The race is not over yet; the Stanford team hopes to participate in the World Solar Challenge, an 1,877-mile race across the Australian continent.

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Junior

Junior

Developing the cars of tomorrow, at home in America.

At our Electronics Research Laboratory (ERL) in Palo Alto, Calif., we employ a creative and confident team of mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, software engineers, social scientists, and product designers committed to developing the cars of the future.

The ERL is positioning the Volkswagen Group of America (VWGoA) to become the epicenter of expertise for vehicle electronics in North America. Read more »

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