The VW Group will stop at nothing to lead the field in autonomous driving.
The Volkswagen Group isn't just chasing pole position in the electric vehicle race. The German automaker has far loftier ambitions and has previously stated its intentions to lead the field in self-driving vehicles. As part of this goal, VW's software division, Cariad, has announced it has chosen Qualcomm Technologies to supply technology to allow autonomous driving up to Level 4.
The system-on-chips (SoCs) from the company's Snapdragon Ride Platform portfolio will play an important part in Cariad's standardized and scalable compute platform, which is targeted for use in VW Group vehicles from the middle of the decade. This announcement heralds big changes at Cariad and Volkswagen. Qualcomm's technology will enable VW to decide which computer chips it requires and also match them with its own software needs.
The aforementioned SoCs from the Snapdragon Ride Platform portfolio are "optimally suited" to Cariad's requirements, placing Volkswagen and its software subsidiary in a good position in terms of forging ahead with Level 4 autonomous driving. "We are striving to let customers take their hands off the steering wheel in the future," said Cariad's CEO, Dirk Hilgenberg.
"Our software and [Qualcomm's] ... SoCs are the perfect match to bring this new automotive experience to customers around the world," he added. For those who derive joy from being behind the wheel of a car, this doesn't make any sense - but sometimes, driving isn't exactly thrilling.
Traffic jams, for example, are the bane of most commuters; Volkswagen is hoping autonomous driving will remedy this. VW bigwig Ralf Brandstatter has previously echoed this sentiment. "Everybody loves to steer cars, to have fun, but sometimes it's boring... in the future, you can decide what you want to do with the additional quality time we are giving our customers."
It may be some time before we see a self-driving ID.4 on local roads, but it's not far off. Volkswagen has already been granted permission to start testing autonomous ID. Buzz vans on American roads from 2023. What's more, the Wolfsburg-based brand plans to introduce a self-driving taxi service based on this for select regions in Germany.
It seems that nothing can derail Volkswagen on its journey to autonomous driving, but Audi's legal head has voiced some concerns about the topic. Uta Klawitter says she can see self-driving public transport in cities but, with regards to autonomous technology as a whole, there's still a long way to go. She says despite regulations and legal barriers, the most important issue is safety. "Only then ... will it gain social acceptance and the corresponding trust."