Volkswagen Group has unveiled a self-driving concept car, the Sedric, which can drive children to school, drop their parents in the offices, and then look independently for a parking space.
The vehicle, which provides an indication of how robo-taxis could operate in the future, can also collect pre-ordered shopping or meet the owner at the station or airport, according to an online journal, ARS Technica.
Presented last week at the Geneva auto show, one of the world’s most glamorous auto exhibitions, the automaker said the concept car gave a glimpse of the future of personal transportation.
The Sedric is a small driverless pod, similar in stature to those found at Heathrow Airport, London but with a greater level of autonomy, the Telegraph of London reports in its review of the car.
The Sedric is expected to waft through the urban landscape silently with the aid of electric motors.
The idea of developing fully autonomous vehicles that would offer greater comfort and convenience than current cars, while slashing the number of road deaths and truly democratising mobility gave birth to the Sedric, ARS Technica, said, in its report.
It said it was the first concept car built by the Volkswagen Group.
It quoted the car’s Chief Designer, Mr. Michael Mauer, as saying it was developed by Volkswagen Group’s Future Centre Europe in Potsdam and Volkswagen Group Research in Wolfsburg.
He said, “We are systematically focusing on our customers, their wishes and requirements for the mobility of the future.
“The Volkswagen Group Future Centres give us the opportunity to conceptualise and develop new ideas of mobile life.”
According to Volkswagen, Sedric will serve as either a shared mobility system operating worldwide or a vehicle from one of the group’s brands that might be owned by an individual.
The company also noted that despite much talk in recent years about future mobility ushering in new ownership models, many people would continue to desire their own automobile in the future.
Volkswagen said it aimed to make the Sedric very simple to operate, using a remote control called the Button: pressing it summons car and identifies the user when the car arrives.
Two wide doors on each side slide open to reveal an airy interior with sofa-style seats facing towards the centre.
No steering wheel
Sedric has no steering wheel, no pedals, and no conventional cockpit controls or instruments.
Volkswagen said this would permit “a completely new sense of well-being in the vehicle-a welcome home feeling.”
According to the reviewer, the front seats fold up to provide more floor area so the rear passengers can stretch out or to house luggage. Air quality is maintained using large bamboo charcoal air filters and a collection of air-purifying plants that sit in front of the rear windscreen.
It said, “Once inside, operation is based on voice commands: you just tell Sedric where you want to go and the route you will prefer to take. Sedric responds with information on the journey time and the current traffic situation.
“Passengers – since there’s no human driver, everyone is a passenger – can sit back and relax or can engage more fully with the journey through a windscreen that is in fact a transparent, high-resolution OLED display. This can provide augmented reality data or can be used as an entertainment centre.”
The Volkswagen’s Chief Digital Officer, Johann Jungwirth, said the company would become a leading mobility provider by 2025 and would “in part become a software and services company” in the process.
Volkswagen quoted an American computer scientist, Alan Kay, as saying, “People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware.” Jungwirth added that Volkswagen already had decades of experience with the hardware.
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