On the eve of this week’s Geneva International Motor Show, the Volkswagen Group has introduced a concept car specifically developed for autonomous driving.
The company’s first concept vehicle, Sedric (the name is an abbreviation of self-driving car), is designed to highlight how a car might operate at the highest level of automated driving (Level 5 – fully automated).
Volkswagen’s concept car also underlines the importance of automated driving to the company’s future strategy.
“Audi and Volkswagen have long been pioneers in autonomous driving,” said Matthias Müller, CEO of the Volkswagen Group.
“For us, that underpins our claim to play a proactive part in shaping the next evolutionary stages on the road to the self-driving car and to take these cars into production for our customers.”
The Sedric car, which is electric, is designed to be fully autonomous – reflected in its lack of steering wheel, pedals and cockpit.
A passenger would be able to summon the self-driving car with the touch of a button, says Volkswagen, ‘guaranteeing mobility for everyone, at any time, and at any location’.
A controller would show Sedric’s arrival time and use vibrations to guide users with impaired vision to the self-driving car.
Volkswagen’s vision is for this controller to be used worldwide, giving users access to autonomous shared mobility vehicles when overseas, whether they are on a business trip or on holiday.
Once their self-driving vehicle has arrived, passengers would be able to talk directly to Sedric about their destination and route, and have access to a communication and entertainment centre via an OLED screen on the windscreen.
The company says that its self-driving concept car can also be configured as a personal vehicle for people who want to continue to own a car.
Volkswagen predicts a range of functions for such an autonomous vehicle, including carrying out the school run, dropping its owners at the office, finding a parking space independently, collecting shopping and picking up visitors.
To support its focus on autonomous driving, the Volkswagen Group plans to invest several billion euros in automated driving over the coming years, and recruit top specialists to boost its existing autonomous driving expertise.
Through its ‘TOGETHER – Strategy 2025’ programme, Volkswagen plans to become one of the leading global providers of sustainable mobility.
The company says that fully automated vehicles will ‘enrich the mobility experience’ for many people, and that its vision of mobility based on intensively used vehicles will provide significant benefits.
“We are convinced that fully-automated vehicles will make life in our cities better, more eco-friendly and above all safer,” said Müller.
“Sedric gives the first concrete foretaste of that today. Sedric is a trailblazer and idea platform for autonomous driving. Many elements and functions of this concept car will reappear in vehicles from our brands in the coming years.”