A ride on SEDRIC: this is Volkswagen’s first autonomous car

SEDRIC: this is Volkswagen’s first autonomous car

A little over 100 kilometers from Hannover is Ehra – Lessien, a quiet town of just over 2,000 inhabitants and which hides one of the most emblematic test centers worldwide, the Volkswagen Group.

In the middle of a large area of forests are deployed 140 kilometers of roads that are used to check the operation of vehicles, sooner or later, will travel the roads and cities of virtually the entire world.

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The layout and cant of the circuit make it the ideal place to take full advantage of the models in which the German group works. Without going any further, was the place chosen for the Bugatti Veyron marked a few years ago a new speed record, exceeding 400 kilometers per hour.

In TechGIndia we have had the opportunity to visit this center, among large security measures to avoid photographing anything that puts confidentiality at risk and to know first hand the projects in which they are working to improve the mobility of tomorrow. Among all of them, the SEDRIC model captures all eyes.

It was at the Geneva Motor Show where Volkswagen presented its innovative proposal for the future of mobility: the SEDRIC model (Self – Driving Car) with a level five of autonomy. In fact, there is no room for the driver (or steering wheel or pedals) and its interior is limited to four squares faced, a tablet and three physical buttons: Go, to start the march; Stop, to stop it and Call, in case we need to call an emergency service.

The interior of SEDRIC is completed by a wooden floor, a security camera on the roof and an OLED screen that occupies the entire part of the front windshield and incorporates an onboard entertainment system with options such as Netflix.

Its operation is simple. First of all, with an application in the mobile, you can set the collection point where SEDRIC comes with the word “Hello” written on its screen of the doors. After getting up, you just have to indicate the point you want to go to and the car moves at a maximum speed of 30 kilometers per hour to your destination. Although it was a closed circuit and in a controlled environment, SEDRIC does not show at any time a hint of insecurity in its operation.

If the forecasts of Volkswagen follow their course, SEDRIC will see the light in four models: the normal model; Active, designed for lovers of outdoor sports who need more space; a school bus and the curious Nightlife, which incorporates a karaoke. At the moment, the prototype has the same battery as the eGolf model and promises a range of up to 300 kilometers.

Technologies to avoid abuses

On our visit to the Ehra – Lessien test center, we were also able to ride an eGolf with level 5 autonomy, but developed into a current model. First, we went through a circuit where two cars were parked on the right, with two dolls pretending to be hidden humans. The car, at all times, detects what lies ahead, showing on the screen in blue color to the parked cars and in red to the “pedestrians”. In a first round, when pedestrians were off the road, the car circulated autonomously without setbacks. In the second round, when passing through the same point at a constant speed of approximately 50 kilometers per hour, one of the dolls fell on the road and the vehicle was able to brake in a small space and with hardly any brusqueness.

Forecasts of electric vehicles and autonomous

Although the SEDRIC prototype will go into production imminently, the engineers of the German firm are still skeptical about when we will see autonomous cars circulating in the cities. In fact, the company is marked until the year 2025 to fully consolidate the electric mobility and from that year to begin to see autonomous driving vehicles. During the conversation, the engineers themselves spoke of the relative simplicity of reaching level 3 autonomy, but how incredibly difficult it was to reach level 5.

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Despite the controversy in which the group is immersed in the handling of the emissions of their diesel vehicles, Volkswagen seems to have drawn a roadmap to solve the mobility problems suffered by many cities.

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Omar Belkaab

Journalist Editor for TechGIndia. Although I am passionate about new technologies and the best Android devices, I remain very attached to the good old feature phones that have often left me in the lurch.