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Volkswagen begins testing automated cars

Volkswagen Group Research is testing automated vehicles in urban traffic in Hamburg. 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-kilometre section of the digital test bed for automated and connected driving in the Hanseatic city. The results of the test drives, which will be continuously evaluated taking full account of all data protection rules, will be incorporated in the Group’s numerous research projects on automated driving, and will test customer-centric services and optimise individual transport.

The vehicles have laser scanners, radars, ultrasonic sensors and cameras. Test drivers will be behind the car’s steering wheel at all times to monitor performance and take control of the vehicle in case of an emergency.

This, in combination with sensor technology, will enable the vehicle to collate data on everything from cyclists and pedestrians to other cars, rights of way and intersections. A range of artificial intelligence techniques, including deep learning and pattern recognition, will be used.

“The tests center on technical possibilities as well as urban infrastructure requirements,” Axel Heinrich, who is head of Volkswagen Group Research, said in a statement Wednesday.

A 9 kilometer “digital test bed” for both connected and automated driving is being built in Hamburg. It is set to be finished in 2020. Traffic lights in the city are also being updated in order to facilitate infrastructure-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication.

Heinrich added that, to make driving safer and more comfortable, “vehicles not only have to become autonomous and more intelligent – cities must also provide a digital ecosystem that enables vehicles to communicate with traffic lights and traffic management systems as well as with one another.”

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