Some people are predicting them for 2021, but it will probably take 2030 or even a little longer to use them on open roads, level 5 cars make car manufacturers and their designers fantasize. Without steering wheels and pedals, these tomorrow’s vehicles will also be electric. Free from the constraints of an internal combustion engine and heavy transmissions, the autonomous cars of the future will devote most of their interior space to passenger comfort (and, secondarily, to batteries). Technical characteristics that will revolutionize the automobile as we hear it today and on which each manufacturer brings its own vision.
Each car manufacturer must show a concept car autonomous
The Frankfurt Motor Show was the occasion for several car manufacturers to unveil their vision of the autonomous car of the future. Audi unveiled the Aicon concept, an externally classic car with no steering wheel or pedals. It is indeed an autonomous car of level 5, i. e. it no longer requires the driver’s attention. The concept car presented by Audi in Frankfurt disappointed both its lines appeared wise and more realistic than the fantastic Long Distance Lounge concept presented a few months earlier by the manufacturer Ingolstad. This renewed wisdom shows that it will take time for traditional car manufacturers to move the lines and make the car as it is now being designed to be forgotten.
The other announcement of the IIA Frankfurt came from Daimler. After the incredible F 150 of 2015, a palace with returnable seats, it’s up to its Smart brand to propose another approach to the autonomous car? Its smart-vision-EQ remains a small city car with two seats, but here again neither steering wheel nor pedals. A panoramic screen allows passengers to program their destination and then take advantage of the car’s infotainment applications while waiting for the car to take them to the destination.
German manufacturers are not the only ones to work on these new autonomous car concepts. Renault unveiled its “concept car” Symbioz, a level 5 autonomous car that the size and concept fit between the Mercedes F 150 and the Audi Aicon. The French manufacturer states that this rolling demonstrator will start testing at the end of 2017, knowing that the target date of marketing would be 2030. A long-time rival, Peugeot had already unveiled a comparable machine at the Geneva Motor Show 2017 with a 300 hp 4×4 Hybrid, the Peugeot Instinct Concept. If this one had a removable steering wheel, the sochalian concept remains more classic, with seats that remain fixed in the direction of travel. Volvo and recently BMW with its Vision Next have also shown comparable formulas, with a steering wheel that retracts into the dashboard to free up space in the cockpit.
Visions in rupture slow to impose themselves
If these manufacturers consider the autonomous car as a simple evolution of current vehicles, others are exploring more radical ways. This is the case of Volkswagen, which unveiled its Sedric at the Geneva Motor Show, a concept that is probably the antithesis of the car’s designer-cultivated passion. Brocaded on social networks, this small vehicle has been compared by some to a cable car with wheels, others see it as a tribute to the science fiction series of the 70’s, the Sedric looks a lot like the automatic shuttles already marketed by Navya and EasyMile’s EZ10, but it is limited to 4 seats. More than just a vehicle that can be marketed on terms, the VW Group has turned this small vehicle into the laboratory platform for the systems that will eventually equip the vehicles marketed under its various brands.
This track of automated transport modules is obviously not the main research track of car manufacturers, since the pooling of means of transport will automatically lead to a drastic reduction in the number of vehicles needed to move people. It will undoubtedly take many decades and generations of autonomous vehicles to establish a network of self-service autonomous transport modules.
Translation : Deepl