Volkswagen Tests Self-Driving Cars in Hamburg


German automobile company Volkswagen will now test its own self-driving car in the streets of Hamburg / Photo by: Steve Jurvetson via Flickr


Volkswagen has announced that the first tests of vehicles fitted with Level 4 automation are now underway in a major German city. It is currently testing out five of its automated cars on the streets of Hamburg.

The e-Golf cars the automaker is testing are designed to take on complex urban traffic patterns without the need for human drivers, although they must be on standby to intervene when necessary. Level 5 automation is the only higher category in which the vehicle is required to perform all the tasks, allowing every rider to become the passenger, CNN reports.

It adds that the cars are navigating on three kilometers of urban Hamburg road where new signals and traffic management systems were installed that help in facilitating automated driving. The objective is to develop another six kilometers of the city's streets by next year, which includes new infrastructure that helps build communication between vehicles and traffic management systems.

According to Volkswagen, computers installed in every test vehicle has the combined processing power of 15 laptops, which allows up to five gigabytes of data to be communicated per minute. CNN states each car is also equipped with 11 laser scanners, seven radars, and 14 cameras.

The tests are focused not only on technical possibilities but also on urban infrastructure requirements, said Volkswagen Group research head Axel Heinrich.

"In order to make driving even safer and more comfortable in the future, vehicles not only have to become autonomous and more intelligent—cities must also provide a digital ecosystem," he said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the German government is injecting funds for similar sites—called "test beds"—in Berlin, Braunschweig, Dresden, Düsseldorf, Ingolstadt, and Munich in support and encouragement of autonomous vehicle testing in the said cities.

Self-driving cars can be tested anywhere in Germany, under certain conditions, but the "test beds" serve as real-world facilities that policymakers can observe, seeing that users are accountable for autonomous driving tests.