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Volkswagen's Latest ID Vehicle Over-the-Air Software Update Adds ‘Swarm Data' and Many Other Innovative Features

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【Summary】Volkswagen plans to have an entire lineup of software-defined vehicles in the future that will receive regular over-the-air (OTA) software updates, starting with its ID family of electric vehicles, which includes the new ID 4 SUV. The latest version,“Software 3.0”, adds many new features to the electric ID vehicles that will enhance the user experience and optimize EV charging capacity.

Eric Walz    Mar 21, 2022 11:45 AM PT
Volkswagen's Latest ID Vehicle Over-the-Air Software Update Adds ‘Swarm Data' and Many Other Innovative Features

Automaker Volkswagen AG plans to have an entire lineup of software-defined vehicles in the future that will receive regular over-the-air (OTA) software updates, starting with its ID family of electric vehicles, which includes the new ID 4 SUV.

The latest generation of version named  "Software 3.0", adds many new features to the electric ID vehicles that enhances the user experience and optimizes EV charging capacity, according to Volkswagen. 

One of the most notable updates is the addition of anonymous "swarm data" from other Volkswagen vehicles to help its advanced driver assist system make better decisions, such as performing automatic lane changes. The addition of swarm data marks the next step towards vehicle systems that support fully-automated driving, according to Volkswagen. 

The optional feature, which is part of Volkswagen's intelligent driver assistance system, is called "Travel Assist with Swarm Data''. It automatically keeps the vehicle in the center of the lane, but can also adapt to an individual's driving style, including driving further to the left or right of the lane instead of exactly in the middle. 

If swarm data from other Volkswagen vehicles is available, the new "" feature can also provide additional support on rural roads where there is only one lane marking. If traveling on such a road, the vehicle simply aligns itself with a detected lane boundary in order to stay in the lane. Swarm data further increases the availability of "Travel Assist" and enhances comfort and support for the customer, according to Volkswagen.

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The swarm data from nearby VW vehicles will also be used to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front and maintain the speed limit preset by the driver. The system's other features include predictive cruise control and turning assistance. For example, the vehicle speed can be adapted to comply with local speed limits and road layouts, such as when navigating through a traffic circle or a sharp curve.

The system is supported by two radars at the rear and ultrasound. "Travel Assist with Swarm Data" can keep an eye on surrounding traffic and, at speeds of 90 km/h (55 mph) or more on the highway, as well as supporting lane changes if desired. 

The lane change function can be activated by simply using the turn signal. However the maneuver will only be made if the vehicle's sensors have not detected any objects and that the driver's hands on the steering wheel. Only then will the vehicle perform the desired lane change. But the driver can always intervene at any time and take control of the maneuver.

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Navigation Improvements

The updated software also improves the ID vehicle navigation system. It now locates the vehicle precisely in the lane within the system limits, which enables it to recommend changing lanes in and at suggested times when approaching junctions and exits. The lane change recommendation appears in the light strip under the windscreen in the field of view of the driver.

New functions were also added to display local hazard warnings. This service is based on Volkswagen's Car2X communications technology that allows for its vehicles to network with each other and to roadside infrastructure via the WLANp radio standard, which does not require a cellular connection. It can alert nearby Volkswagen vehicles in real-time to hazards, such as a broken-down vehicle, debris in the roadway or approaching emergency vehicles.

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Another function that Volkswagen added to Software 3.0 is "Park Assist Plus". The smart assistant can search for a parking space after it has been activated in the parking menu. Park Assist Plus can park the vehicle autonomously using its external sensors and cameras. The system takes full control of the steering, acceleration, braking and gear changes to park the vehicle autonomously. 

To use the feature, a driver simply stops at the selected parking space, applies the brake and activates the parking process via the start button in the parking menu. 

"Park Assist Plus" can also assist with parking maneuvers that have already been started, such as when a driver is having difficulty attempting to parallel park in a tight space. If this happens, the systems will complete the process for them. It can also pull out of parallel parking spaces when leaving.

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Park Assist Plus also features a "Memory Function" allowing the vehicle to learn specific parking maneuvers and repeat them on its own for the next time.

Volkswagen latest Software 3.0 also updates the ID vehicle instrument clusters and infotainment system with more helpful information and icons for drivers. An optional "augmented reality head-up display" can project important information straight into the driver's field of view on the windshield.

The automaker said it added additional HUD graphics in the long-distance zone. In addition to showing the optional "Travel Assist" assisted lane change, it also displays new symbols such as roundabouts and information on the distance to a destination. The turn signal arrows also appear much more integrated into the surroundings, according to Volkswagen.

The ID instrument cluster will now show the battery's State of Charge (SOC) displayed as a percentage, next to a battery icon that shows the charge level. The feature was added after feedback from customers wanting to view the vehicle's state of charge as a percentage. 

"We are in close contact with our customers via the ID. Drivers Club – for example, many of them wanted the percentage information, so we made it happen," says Silke Bagschik, CMO of the ID. Digital project unit and Head of Sales and Marketing for the e-Mobility series.

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Volkswagen also added a smart e-route planner to help conserve battery power. The charging menu now appears on the first screen of the large touch display of the ID models and is structured in a more informative and clear way. 

For long distances, the e-route planner in the navigation system creates a multi-stop route, which gets drivers to their destination as quickly as possible. It takes traffic and route data into account, as well as the desired state-of-charge (SOC) upon arrival at the final destination or stops along the way. 

Each EV charging stop is evaluated dynamically and based on the charging power of the charging stations. As a result, the route planning may suggest two short charging sessions using a DC fast charger instead of a longer charging session from a lower current EV charger.

Updated Voice Recognition Technology

Volkswagen's Software 3.0 also optimizes the voice recognition technology for the infotainment system. The voice control recognizes commands much faster and more precisely, which Volkswagen says increases both user-friendliness and driving comfort. 

The driver can activate the voice control either by touching the steering wheel or by speaking the phrase "Hello ID." The system replies within a few seconds. In addition, the improved recognition quality of the voice control is now at around 95% according to Volkswagen. 

The voice control system uses digital microphones in the cabin that can recognize whether the driver or the front passenger is speaking, and follows the voice instructions accordingly. For example, if the passenger requests to lower the air conditioning, the vehicle knows to lower the temperature on the passenger side instead of the driver.

The voice control can also understand general phrases, natural language and expressions. For example, a driver can say, "Where is the nearest Japanese restaurant in Berlin?" to get directions, or say "I'm too warm" and the vehicle will turn on the AC. 

The system responds in two ways, online from the cloud or offline from the information stored in the car itself. The processing in the cloud ensures a particularly high recognition rate and quality of results, even when searching for special destinations, according to Volkswagen. Voice control is available in all ID electric models on the German market, provided the optional "We Connect Plus" service is activated.

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Volkswagen's new software-defined vehicles are part of its new "ACCELERATE strategy", which will see the company transformed into a software-oriented mobility provider, which segment leader Tesla claims to be. The automaker says its will become an expert in software integration and regular over-the-air updates for its vehicles. 

With its updated ACCELERATE strategy, Volkswagen is adapting a changing auto industry with software-based vehicles and internet connectivity. By 2026, the automaker will have invested around 18 billion euros in the future topics of e-mobility and connected vehicle services.

Volkswagen plans to increase the share of all-electric cars in sales in Europe to over 70% by 2026. In the US and China, the automaker is targeting an electric share of more than 50% percent in the same period. 

Volkswagen plans to release at least one new electric model each year with the goal of fully electrifying its entire model lineup. The automaker aims to be a net-zero, climate-neutral company by 2050 at the latest. 

Volkswagen also said it will make autonomous driving available to many people by 2030.

In January, automotive supplier Bosch and Volkswagen's automotive software subsidiary CARIAD agreed to form an extensive partnership to jointly develop a state-of-the-art, standardized software platform for future Volkswagen vehicles.

The goal of the partnership is to make SAE Level-2 and 3 autonomous driving capabilities for vehicles sold under the Volkswagen Group brands suitable for volume production by building a standardized vehicle software platform.

Volkswagen's software-powered autonomous driving system will be built for urban, city and freeway driving, including a Level-3 system that requires no human supervision on highways that will be installed in VW Group vehicles by 2023. 

Volkswagen rival Mercedes-Benz recently obtained approval to offer such a system in Germany, which allows drivers to read a book or watch a movie when traveling on the highway.

The plan is that the platform will eventually be used for all vehicles sold under Volkswagen Group brands, making it one of the world's largest deployments of vehicle software by any automaker. It will also be possible to integrate all the software components developed by the alliance and sell or license it to other automakers. 

Buyers of Volkswagen's ID electric vehicles, such as the ID.4, will benefit from the new vehicle software right away. 

For owners of cars that have already been delivered to customers, the latest ID vehicle Software 3.0 is free of charge and will be made available as an OTA update in the second quarter of 2022. 

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