► Volkswagen Sedric concept at Geneva
► A four-seater driverless robot taxi
► Shorthand for ‘self-driving car’
This is the VW Group’s Sedric concept – it looks like an escaped cartoon cable car, it drives itself, and if Volkswagen’s hype is to be believed, it’s a preview of the kind of ‘mobility solutions’ it’ll be serving up by the year 2025.
A concept car created in time for the 2017 Geneva motor show, ‘Sedric’ is a contraction of ‘self-driving car.’ It’s a four-seater, with its high-roofed boxy body allowing face-to-face seating.
Where does the driver sit in the VW Sedric?
It doesn’t need one, silly. The Sedric is (theoretically) an ‘SAE Level 5’ autonomous vehicle, capable of driving with or without fleshy humanoids on board, and as such doesn’t have a steering wheel, dashboard or pedals. Think of it as a more upmarket version of the pods at Heathrow’s Terminal 5.
The concept is a joint project between Volkswagen’s Future Centre Europe in Potsdam and main engineering centre in Wolfsburg. Since it’s the first concept to be officially from the VW Group as a whole rather than a project for one of the company’s specific brands, it doesn’t have a VW badge – although the light graphic design language is very much in line with Volkswagen’s recent concept cars.
The automotive giant continues to throw greater marketing emphasis behind autonomous mobility and electric powertrain plans, as it seeks to distance itself from its recent emissions debacle.
It’s an EV, built using the same MEB platform as other recent electric VW concepts, and upcoming production EVs.
What’s with the headgear?
Those roof-mounted lumps are wide-angle LIDAR sensors, with further sensors of the same type on its bumpers together with various radar and camera-based self-driving hardware.
Designed to be shared between multiple users, Sedric can be summoned via a smartphone, directed by voice control, and includes a concierge-style operator service occupants can contact in case it’s flummoxed by a particular command.
‘Sedric is the pioneer, the ideas platform for autonomous driving in the Volkswagen Group,’ runs the official line from VW. ‘And it is the “Father” of numerous concepts for a new form of individual mobility. Soon Sedric will also get “children” and “grandchildren” with the Group’s various brands. They will be created in typical designs for the brands and will feature tailor-made and customer-specific characteristics for equipment.’
Expect more pod-shaped concept news from VW, Seat and Skoda in the near future, then…
More from the 2017 Geneva motor show