Volkswagen Sedric Concept: What an autonomous future holds

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Volkswagen gave a glimpse of what it sees a future holds for self-driving vehicles in its electric-powered Sedric concept it presented on the eve of the Geneva Motor Show. This people-moving box on wheels is an exercise in so-called Level 5 autonomous technology that has no steering wheel and can be summoned at the push of a button.

“We are convinced that fully-automated vehicles will make like in our cities better, more eco-friendly and above all safer,” said Matthias Müller, CEO of the Volkswagen Group. “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.”

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The Sedric -- an acronym for Self-driving car -- is the first vehicle to be conceived, developed and built at the VW Group Future Center in Potsdam, Germany and demonstrates how a new integrated mobility system would work in the future. Looking more like a single car from a people mover or subway, Sedric has sliding doors with no traditional B-pillar, transit-like flooring and two permanent fixed seats in the rear. Additional jump seats are rear facing and located in the front of the vehicle and extend from about where the traditional dashboard would be. A large deployable screen at the front of the vehicle can be used for entertainment and communication by the passengers.

EV vehicle base

Underpinning the Sedric is a chassis spun from VW’s new MBE platform for electric vehicles. The thin battery pack is part of the floor structure and is mounted between front and rear axles that house the electric drive. This provides a large open area that makes Sedric easy to access for all ages. In addition to its large glass areas that provide good outward visibility, Sedric’s autonomous abilities are tipped by the four LIDAR radar sensors in its roof and smaller radar and infrared sensors arrayed in its front and rear bumpers. The vehicles wheels are nearly completely faired-in for aerodynamic efficiency.  

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Sedric users interact with the vehicle much the same way they do with smartphone personal assistants like Apple’ Siri.  Passengers can ask the car about the destination, how to get there, the driving time, the current traffic situation and request to make stops along the way. The large OLED screen not only provides entertainment and trip information, it can also be used to order purchases, surf the internet or be used a form of augmented reality.

New way of doing things

With no steering wheel or pedals, or for that matter traditional styling cues like a hood and a trunk, Sedric is more than just a new way of transportation, according to Müller, who sees it representing a new way of doing business for Volkswagen and a shift in the traditions of car ownership. On the latter score, Sedric can not only serve the needs of the owner, but also, it is an ideal platform for transportation sharing, which can also reduce the cost of ownership. When the owner or user is not engaged with the vehicle, it is free to traverse the cityscape to provide its transportation to others.

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While VW Group’s brands will continue to build vehicles in the future, Müller said this concept demonstrates the organization’s ability to adapt to a future in which automakers are providing mobility as a service as opposed to a traditional product-based approach. “Our concept car stands for a new self-image and a new form of collaboration and know-how transfer within the group,” he said.


 

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