In an interview with Lutz Meschke, Porsche’s own CFO and vice president of the executive board, the company has revealed its idea to add an autonomous track mode to its future cars.
Dubbed ‘Mark Webber mode’ by Meschke, the idea is that the car would be able to traverse a track with the same precision that a racing driver would, and teach the occupant where to brake, power out, and where to apex.
“[The] idea is the Mark-Webber-function, as we call it – named after the race driver and our brand ambassador,” Meschke says.
“With this function, the vehicle could drive autonomously on a racetrack like the Nürnburgring – just like Webber would drive. The car drives an ideal course and demonstrates perfect brakes in the curves, where to best shift and where to accelerate.
“First, software saves the exact course Mark Webber drives on a racetrack. These data are used by the autonomous vehicle to drive the course identically. Afterwards the costumer can reclaim the steering wheel and let the car show him the ideal course, thus training and improving his skills as a driver via direct feedback from the car.
Even better, Meschke says this isn’t something that’s too far-fetched.
“This is technically possible already. Of course, the driver can improve over time and learn new things. In a first step, he lets the virtual Mark Webber drive and gets to know the course. Then he drives himself and learns from the virtual coach.
“First, he drives with 40% of the speed, then with 50, then with 60. And of course, you can choose from different race tracks. Or from different race drivers – maybe you would rather drive like Walter Röhrl.”
In the same interview, Meschke confirms that Porsche is likely to use autonomous driving tech as a more ‘assistive’ approach, rather than allowing it to take over the driving totally.
“A Porsche will always be a car that you will want and be able to drive yourself,” Meschke says.
“Nevertheless, there are of course aspects of autonomous driving that are interesting for us: Traffic jam assistants or automated parking, for example. It’s attractive to be able to use the drive into the office during rush hour for my first virtual meeting.”