HAMBURG, Germany–Volkswagen has begin testing self-driving cars here.
The company is testing five e-Golfs with Level 4 automation, and this pilot program marks VW’s first foray into autonomous driving in a major German city.
These eGolfs are fitted out to handle complex urban traffic patterns without help from drivers. Level 5 automation requires the vehicle to perform all tasks without the intervention of a driver.
The course laid out here is about 1.9 miles long where the city and VW have installed signals and smartcity infrastructure to facilitate autonomous driving.
The agreement between the city and the automaker calls for upgrading the course to an additional 3.7 miles by 2020 with new infrastructure that connects the cars to the traffic management system and sensors on the streets.
The cars are equipped with 11 laser scanners, seven radar sensors and 14 cameras.
Axel Heinrich, head of Volkswagen Group research, said the tests “center on technical possibilities as well as urban infrastructure requirements.”
Heinrich noted that while much of the attention on AV is on the automakers, the technology also relies on investment by cities in so-called smart-city infrastriucture.
“In order to make driving even safer and more comfortable in future, vehicles not only have to become autonomous and more intelligent — cities must also provide a digital ecosystem,” he said in a statement.
Volkswagen has entered into an alliance with Ford Motor Co. to co-develop AV technology, electric vehicles, commercial vehicles and pickup trucks for VW outside of North America.
The German government is also funding AV pilot programs in Berlin, Braunschweig, Dresden, Düsseldorf, Ingolstadt and Munich.