Marie Puhle is helping the young man in the VR glasses. He has taken his place in the driver’s seat of a simulator; in front of him, a typical highway scenario is running on three screens. Whereas the real cockpit is limited to steering wheel and fittings, the test pilot sees a lot more through his VR glasses: all the details of the interior, displays and control elements. The “driver” can look around, try everything out and quickly finds his way around this virtual car. He starts the car and weaves his way into the highway traffic. Marie Puhle is satisfied.
Engineering psychologist Puhle is part of one of the teams of five to ten people working with the car of the future here in the UX laboratory in Hall 90b. Hall 90b is a multi-story, glass-clad complex at the heart of Technical Development in the Wolfsburg plant. Increased security precautions are in place in the building, since this is where the Volkswagen brand’s teams of experts are developing the innovations of tomorrow and beyond.
Among them is the so-called User Experience: UX for short. That’s why psychologist Puhle, with a team of designers, engineers and software developers, is investigating how the car of the future can be controlled. “We will not suddenly change the mode of operation,” says Marie Puhle. She and her colleagues make sure that tried and tested elements are retained and the car can be handled intuitively. Development is carried out carefully, and the team’s concepts will be implemented in a few years’ time in series production vehicles.