Volkswagen reveals self-driving pod-like Sedric concept

by Greg Kable, Autocar UK 07 Mar 2017


The Volkswagen Sedric, a futuristically styled self-driving vehicle concept, has been revealed ahead of its Geneva Motor Show debut.

The Volkswagen Group concept previews a hi-tech vision for the future of individual mobility into and beyond the next decade.

Called the Sedric – an acronym for the words “self-driving car”, the new pod like four-seater has been developed as part of the German car maker’s Together-Strategy 2025 programme as a foundation for a planned transformation of the  Volkswagen Group from a traditional engineering led company to one specialising in integrated mobility services through its newly created Mobility Solutions division.

Billed as the first concept car to be developed as a cross-brand ideas platform within the Volkswagen Group, the new concept has been created as a solution to providing intuitive individual mobility in a universally usable vehicle with an easily understood control concept.

The Sedric also explores how the car will exist in a shared economy, being conceived to be used within a sharing platform for use by multiple users.  It is credited to to a trio of high ranking Volkswagen Group officials: Michael Mauer, head of design; Johan Jungwirth, Chief Digital Officer and  Ulrich Eichorn, head of Research and Development.

Conceived to dovetail with the Volkswagen Group’s recent investment in the mobility service provider Gett and the establishment of its own in-house mobility service provider MOIA, the Sedric brings together future mobility ideas being pursued throughout the Volkswagen Group in a compact concept that does away with traditional proportioning and a classic car like interior as well as features such as a steering wheel and pedals.

In their place is a smoothly surfaced one-box, pod like creation that houses a roomy four seat lounge like cabin featuring speech controlled propulsion via an electric motor sited within the rear axle delivering around 134bhp and driven by a lithium ion battery pack mounted within the flat floor providing a claimed range of around 250 miles. 

At the heart of the Sedric is a highly contemporary autonomous driving system that draws on Level 5 technology being developed by the Volkswagen Group for use on driverless cars planned for launch after 2020. It uses five individual LIDAR (light, image, detection and ranging scanner) devices mounted atop the Sedric’s roof in combination with seven cameras and various radar sensors.


OneButton to the future
Linking the new concept with its user is a so-called mobility controller that Jungwirth describes as the key fob of the future, dubbed OneButton. With a press of a button, the controller hails the new Volkswagen, displaying its arrival time with coloured signals as well as a vibration signal designed specifically to guides a person with impaired vision to the car.

The Volkswagen Group describes its new mobility concept as the “father of numerous concepts” already under development, suggesting it will also get “children and grand children” within its portfolio of brands, which include, Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Seat and Skoda.

Development of the new Volkswagen Group concept has taken place at the Volkswagen Group’s so-called Future Centre Europe in Potsdam, Germany following a greenlight to the program from the company’s chairman, Matthias Mueller, in May 2016. It draws on mobility and propulsion ideas first presented by the Volkswagen Group at last year’s Geneva Motor Show. 

Speaking at the Group's traditional pre-show event, Mueller said: "Sedric is a foretaste of automated vehicles at the highest stage of automation. Sedric independently controls all driving functions, and it has been systematically developed to meet user’s needs. You talk to Sedric as you would to your personal assistant. All of the controls are voice controlled. And you choose whether Sedric goes the fastest, eco-friendly or a scenic route. Sedric drops you off at your location then drives off to find a parking space or go to the next person in need of transportation."

"Sedric creates a feeling of plenty of space, like a lounge on four wheels. It makes autonomy fun." 

Commenting on the fact that Sedric is the first ever concept car to come from the Volkswagen Group, Mueller said that although the concept "stands for a new self-image" of the group as "an incubator for ideas", the group will not build its own cars in the future - and will leave that function to individual brands."

That said, Mueller did confirm that elements from the Sedric will appear in cars from the VW Group brands in the coming years, as those brands move forwards with autonomous vehicles.



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