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German carmaker Volkswagen has stated that fully autonomous care too expensive to build and have a rather limited appeal. The statement was made by Volkswagen's head of commercial vehicles Thomas Sedran to Reuters at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show.
Sedran told Reuters that driverless cars would take at least 5 more years to develop properly and that the cost and complexity of rolling these fully autonomous vehicles undermined the business case made for them.
Sedran, who is in charge of the Volkswagen Group's autonomous strategy for commercial vehicles told the international news organization, "It will take another five years to develop the technology to achieve higher levels of autonomy. Can you see a business case which justifies these overheads for this period of time? It's just too expensive."
Sedran compared developing Level 5 Autonomous cars to sending man to the Red Planet. He also claimed that Level 5 driverless cars would only be able to work in a few cities around the world provided the conditions and road marking were perfect.
Sedran stated, "The complexity of solving this problem is like a manned mission to Mars... Level 5 will never happen globally. You need latest-generation mobile infrastructure everywhere, as well as high-definition digital maps that are constantly updated. And you still need near-perfect road markings. This will only be the case in very few cities. And even then, the technology will only work in ideal weather conditions. If there are large puddles on the road in heavy rain, that's already a factor forcing a driver to intervene."
The head of Volkswagen's commercial vehicles division also stated that the cost of building these vehicles was currently way too high and the need for a back-up driver only added to the cost.
Sedran told Reuters that technology for current Level 3 autonomous vehicles which includes the Lidar sensors, computer processors and software costs €50,000 (Rs 39.23 lakh). Sedran stated that costs for sensors would need to come down to around €7,000 (Rs 5.49 lakhs) for the Lidar sensors alone, which he claimed would require a quantum leap in terms of innovation.
Sedran also told the international news agency that in addition to the tech, Level 5 autonomous vehicles would require the latest maps and cloud computing among other things, which again would require heavy investments for fleet operators.
DriveSpark's Thoughts On Volkswagen's Take On A Driverless Future
Volkswagen has a valid point when it comes to both the cost required to bring a fully autonomous car to the roads and the tech required to keep it running. With costs running that high, it really does not make sense for a carmaker to go it alone. This is also the reason why Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, teamed up with rival BMW to develop autonomous vehicles.
Also, a world with driverless cars would prove to be such a boring place to be. The best part of the driving experience is the fun you can have behind the wheel when you have a good car and a brilliant road to drive it on. If we really want to ditch that experience, well there already is a solution available. It's called a taxi.