Volkswagen announced it is testing (present tense) self-driving cars in Hamburg. The press release details that there are five self-driving e-Golfs testing on a three kilometer stretch of road in Hamburg.
This would be a minor announcement in the US, where a number of different companies are testing fleets of this size (or bigger) within geofences of this size (or bigger). But surprisingly little testing has happened on public roads in Germany, so it is terrific to see Volkswagen take this step. This might actually be the first major test I can recall in that country.
That said, the press release is a little coy on the exact setup. While the scenario is described as “real driving conditions”, the test is also said to be taking place in a special autonomous vehicle “test bed” that is still under construction.
My sense is that this test is probably not on truly “public” roads that any regular driver might pass through. That said, it seems like a good precursor to that kind of test.
This is the first time Volkswagen has begun to test automated driving to Level 4 at real driving conditions in a major German city. From now, a fleet of five e-Golf, equipped with laser scanners, cameras, ultrasonic sensors and radars, will drive on a three-kilometer section of the digital test bed for automated and connected driving in the Hanseatic city.
The press release does have some interesting and specific details about the vehicles themselves:
“The e-Golf configured by Volkswagen Group Research have eleven laser scanners, seven radars and 14 cameras. Up to 5 gigabytes of data are communicated per minute during the regular test drives, each of which lasts several hours. Computing power equivalent to some 15 laptops is tucked away in the trunk of the e-Golf.”