It turns out the Volkswagen Group’s Sedric concept unveiled in March at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show isn’t just a one-hit wonder.
The German auto giant used last week’s 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show to unveil an updated version of the fully self-driving car, one that’s closer to the version that will start testing on public roads in 2021.
Some firms such as Alphabet, General Motors and Uber are already testing similar cars on public roads, but these are restricted to just a few small areas. The VW Group is promising “an exponential development” taking place across a large number of regions.
The Sedric, short for SElf-DRiving Car, is the first car developed by the VW Group. It’s also the automaker’s first fully self-driving car, i.e. a Level 5 self-driving car that can operate without a human onboard. You won’t find a steering wheel or pedals here. Instead, commands can simply be stated out loud. Occupants are also able to take action via touchscreens and gesture control.
The basis of the Sedric is the VW Group’s modular platform for mainstream electric cars, known as MEB. The platform debuts in 2020 in a Volkswagen Golf-sized electric hatchback based on the ID concept unveiled at the 2016 Paris Motor Show.
The real technology, however, is the self-driving system which the VW Group is developing in-house. The central development areas include identification of the surrounding environment with cameras, 360-degree lidar sensors, long and short-distance radar and ultrasound sensors, a powerful computer for data processing, and an advanced software system with artificial intelligence to control it all.
The VW Group says the Sedric represents the company’s transformation from one focused strictly on auto manufacturing to one that is an integrated provider of hardware, software and digital mobility services. For example, the VW Group plans to license its self-driving to other firms once it’s ready. The company also predicts it will have a self-driving taxi service with fleets made up of vehicles similar to the Sedric.
The VW Group says it has a team already working on ideas for a Sedric family of cars. This will range from fully self-driving cars for the city, through luxurious long-distance ground tourers and even sports cars. Right now, though, we wouldn't expect any of these cars on sale until well into the next decade.
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FUTURE VW MICROBUS DRIVES ITSELF: