A few weeks ago, we visited the Porsche Taycan factory in Stuttgart and drove a Taycan 4S Cross Turismo on the back roads and Autobahn for the afternoon – good time!
But we also attended a workshop outlining some of the company’s upcoming technology, and some really caught our attention.
It’s called the Porsche Digital Twin, and it’s about to significantly change the way we interact with our EVs (and ICE cars alike).
What is Digital Twin?
Wikipedia defines a digital twin as “a virtual representation that acts as a real-time digital equivalent of a physical object or process”. Here, the physical object is (naturally) a Porsche vehicle, and the real-time digital equivalent consists of anonymized sensor data – mostly chassis data from suspension, steering and brake sensors – collected with the explicit permission of the customer.
Porsche collects this sensor data in the car, then sends the anonymized data to the cloud via the vehicle’s LTE (and soon to be 5G) connection.
Once in the cloud, this data is analyzed using machine learning, and compared with data from other Porsche cars.
All Porsche vehicles and service centers have access to this data, which enables some very interesting new functionality for the customer.
vehicle maintenance benefits
This digital twin technology provides instant benefits for vehicle maintenance. By comparing the data in your car with existing data from the vehicle fleet, Porsche can recommend your car when it needs service, and suggest making a maintenance appointment if necessary.
This allows Porsche to customize the service interval for each vehicle and provide a custom maintenance schedule for each customer.
In addition, this digital twin technology can predict when a car will need service based on driving events. Here is a familiar example. You’re walking along when you suddenly see a pothole you can’t avoid, and you hit it hard.
Everything seems to be fine – your vehicle drives the same and there is no damage to the wheels or tyres. At this point, you’ll probably book a maintenance appointment, right?
With the help of this digital twin technology, your car is able to compare suspension sensor data captured during this pothole incident with data from other Porsche vehicles that have experienced a similar driving incident and determine whether Whether and when adaptive dampers (or other chassis components) will need replacement, then offer to book a maintenance appointment. You get peace of mind, and technicians get more accurate information.
Another use case for this digital twin technology is for customers who frequently take their Porsche cars to the track. Based on existing vehicle fleet data at the track location, your vehicle can suggest in advance which wear items will need to be replaced and when, suggest a service appointment for you.
In turn, this helps Porsche keep more accurate maintenance records and increases the resale value of your car.
While Porsche having access to data about driving events or track usage may seem offensive to some, keep in mind that the data collected in the cloud is anonymized, and that Digital Twin technology is opt-in.
In addition, Porsche has been storing engine health data (such as over revs) in its engine computers for a few decades. That data is easily scanned using consumer-grade tools, and is often checked when purchasing a second-hand vehicle.
Real time road surface analysis
Even more exciting is what this Digital Twin technology will bring to the table for future Porsche customers.
By monitoring chassis data in real time and comparing it to data from the vehicle fleet, your car will be able to determine whether the road you are currently driving on – or about to approach – is slippery than usual or in inclement weather. or exhibits poor traction due to surface contaminants.
Your car will then be able to warn you with a chime and message on the instrument display, as well as improve grip by adjusting stability and traction control settings (plus other drivetrain parameters).
If other Porsche vehicles on the road ahead of you experience poor traction, your car may update your navigation route to avoid the affected area, or suggest you exit Sport+ mode.
As a bonus, your vehicle’s chassis data – when compared to data from other Porsche cars – can provide significantly more accurate tire-pressure monitoring and even tire-wear sensing, so you can expect That this digital twin technology will eventually replace existing tire pressure sensors and (more generally) other common wear sensors found in today’s vehicles. So as you can see, this digital twin technology is a big deal.
So far, nearly half of Taycan owners have volunteered their data (which is currently limited to suspension sensor data) for the upcoming rollout of Porsche’s Digital Twin technology sometime in 2022. We’ll cover it as it develops, so stay tuned.
- Porsche Taycan 4S review: If your pockets are deep enough, this is a great EV