A few weeks ago we visited the Porsche Taycan factory in Stuttgart and drove a Taycan 4S Cross Turismo on the back roads and the highway for an afternoon – good times!
But we also attended a workshop describing some of the company’s upcoming technologies, and something really caught our eye.
It’s called Porsche Digital Twin, and it’s set to dramatically change the way we interact with our electric vehicles (as well as ICE cars).
What is a digital twin?
Wikipedia defines a digital twin as “a virtual representation that serves as a real-time digital counterpart of a physical object or process”. Here, the physical object is a Porsche vehicle (naturally), and the real-time digital counterpart consists of anonymized sensor data – mostly chassis data from the suspension, steering, and brake sensors – collected with the explicit authorization from the client.
Porsche aggregates this sensor data in the car, then sends the anonymized data to the cloud via the vehicle’s LTE (and soon 5G) connection.
Once in the cloud, this data is analyzed using machine learning and compared to data from other Porsche cars.
All Porsche vehicles and service centers then have access to this data, which enables new and very interesting functions for the customer.
Benefits for vehicle maintenance
This digital twin technology offers immediate benefits for vehicle maintenance. By comparing your car’s data with existing vehicle fleet data, Porsche can recommend when your car needs service and suggest you make a service appointment, if necessary.
This allows Porsche to optimize the maintenance intervals for each vehicle and to provide a personalized maintenance program for each customer.
Additionally, this digital twin technology can predict when a car will require service based on driving events. Here is a familiar example. You are driving when you suddenly notice a pothole that you cannot avoid and hit it hard.
Everything looks fine – your vehicle drives the same and there is no visible damage to the wheels or tires. At this point, you’d probably make a maintenance appointment just in case, right?
With the help of this digital twin technology, your car is able to compare the suspension sensor data it captured during this pothole incident with data from other Porsche vehicles that have experienced a similar driving event and determine if and when the adaptive shocks (or other chassis components) will need to be replaced, then offer to make a service appointment. You get peace of mind and technicians get more accurate information.
Another use case for this digital twin technology is for customers who often take their Porsche cars to the track. Based on existing vehicle fleet data at the track location, your vehicle can preemptively suggest which wear items need to be replaced and when, then suggest to make a maintenance 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 on driving events or track usage may seem invasive to some people, keep in mind that data collected in the cloud is anonymized and this digital twin technology is optional.
In addition, Porsche stores data on the condition of the engine (such as on the towers) in its engine control units a few decades ago. This data is easily digitized using consumer tools and often verified when purchasing a used vehicle.
Real-time road surface analysis
What’s even more exciting is what this digital twin technology will bring to Porsche customers in the future.
By monitoring chassis data in real time and comparing it to vehicle fleet data, your car will be able to detect if the stretch of road you are currently driving – or are about to reach – is over. slippery than normal or exhibits poor traction due to adverse weather conditions or surface contaminants.
Your car will then be able to warn you with a chime and a message on the instrument display while simultaneously improving grip by adjusting the stability and traction control settings (as well as other transmission settings) accordingly.
If other Porsche vehicles on the road ahead have poor traction, your car may update your navigation route to avoid the affected area or suggest that you remove yourself from Sport + mode.
As a bonus, your vehicle’s chassis data – compared to data from other Porsche cars – can provide much more accurate tire pressure monitoring and even tire wear detection, so you can expect what this digital twin technology eventually replaces existing tire pressure sensors and (more generally) other common wear sensors found in vehicles today. So as you can see this digital twin technology is a big deal.
So far, around half of Taycan owners have already provided their data (which is currently limited to suspension sensor data) for Porsche’s upcoming digital twin technology rollout sometime in 2022. We’ll cover that in as it develops, so stay tuned.