You wouldn't expect Porsche to be particularly fond of the idea of autonomous cars, but they seem to be taking it in stride - at least according to Lutz Meschke, Vice President of the Executive Board. The more obvious traits of autonomous driving can be appreciated by any- such as autonomously piloting the car in traffic jams or self-parking which frees up time for the owner to do other things like have virtual meetings.
Their most current version of the system is found in their Panamera and Cayenne, known as the InnoDrive. It creates a semi-autonomous driving experience through the use of radars and other sensors as well as highly precise 3D route data from the navigation system. The biggest leap for their autonomous systems will be in the Mission E at the end of this decade, but that isn't the most interesting idea they have rolling around.
What is rather cool is their idea of a Mark-Webber-Function, which is named after Mark Webber of course. Taking a leaf out of Audi's autonomous circuit-lapping cars, the Mark-Webber-Function would be used to pilot a car around a racetrack as fast as the racing driver himself, showing occupants the right braking points and lines to take. It would allow owners to get up to speed with an unfamiliar racetrack by replaying exactly how Webber would drive, or perhaps even Walter Rohrl if they preferred his driving style instead.
But the way Porsche intends to deploy these autonomous, digitalized products are more on a pay-per-use basis. For example, if an owner wants a few extra horsepower for a track day, or adaptive headlights for long distance night driving, they would pay and download these particular items- but for that specific use. Similarly, for this Mark-Webber-Function, Porsche expects owners to pay 4 digit figures per use at a racetrack- so don't expect it to come with every car.
If you're questioning how effective a sales model this is, Porsche already has something similar with their situational insurance policies available to customers online since September of this year. Known as Porsche Shield, it allows customers to book additional insurance as and when they feel its necessary- and the same concept could be applied to various features of a car. Still though, treating a car like a video game with downloadable expansion packs is a little different from situational insurance, but at least the framework is in place.