Most modern vehicles come fitted with a plethora of advanced driver-assistance systems but we are still waiting for full autonomous tech to arrive. According to VW CEO, Thomas Schäfer, this won’t take long, since he estimates that autonomous VW cars will go mainstream on a global scale by the end of this decade, starting with LCVs.
As reported by Autocar, Schäfer said: “The technology is available and we are driving in Hamburg and Munich autonomously. The cost of the car is still prohibitive because so little of it gets manufactured. And there’s always the need to prove that the system drives better than a human. The legislation for it is enormous. It’s totally different from country to country”.
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The CEO elaborated on the challenges in the market launch of self-driving vehicles including “the legislation, the camera systems, the chips, the energy consumption, and the speed of calculation”. He added that the car will become “the biggest data collection device there is” adding a lot of complexity.
According to Schäfer, the advancements in VW’s autonomous tech will be spearheaded by its commercial vehicle division, something that could “open up profit pools and opportunities”. VW’s boss is probably referring to ride-hailing services, autonomous delivery vans, and other implementations. If the technology makes it to LCVs, it could then easily roll down to passenger cars since there are a lot of shared components between them.
The VW CEO made those comments amidst the announcement that the Argo Al autonomous tech start-up is shutting down, despite the heavy investments it has received from both VW and Ford over the past few years. Argo Al said that some of its employees will be hired by the two collaborating automakers while others will be laid off.
Volkswagen confirmed that the development of autonomous tech for its future models will continue in collaboration with Cariad, Bosch, and Horizon Robotics. The automaker’s goal is “to offer our customers the most powerful functions at the earliest possible time and to set up our development as cost-effectively as possible”.
The next milestone for VW is the roll-out of a ride-hailing service with the self-driving VW ID. Buzz in Hamburg in 2025, with prototypes of the autonomous van already testing on public roads. Most automakers have delayed their plans for autonomous driving due to the ongoing semiconductor shortage, the significant investments required for electrification, the legislation that differs in each region, and other factors that are pushing back development.