The Volkswagen Group is the latest automaker to announce the availability of cars within five years that will self-drive and self-park, according to engineers at VW’s Electronic Research Laboratory (ERL) in Silicon Valley. Founded in 1998 in Sunnyvale, California and now based in nearby Belmont, ERL was one of the first advanced automotive technology development centers in Silicon Valley. It’s not only an innovation hub for automated driving, but also sensor concepts and image processing, infotainment and driver assistance HMI design, intelligent urban mobility and much more for the German automaker and its various brands: VW, Audi, Bentley, Bugatti and Lamborghini.
VW’s first major step toward fully-autonomous vehicles will be through the development of what the company calls “Traffic Jam Pilot.” This low-speed self-driving feature is ready to be brought out of concept and into production in the next-gen Audi A8 in 2016, according to VW. An autonomous parking function is also likely to appear simultaneously, controlled via the driver’s smartphone once a suitable parking space has been located.
While autonomous-driving technology is on the horizon for VW, ERL is also working on other Silicon Valley-inspired innovations. Some of these include a feature called Photo Souvenir that uses four GoPro cameras mounted to each corner of the car to take pictures every five seconds of a trip. According to VW, around 6,000 pictures can be taken over a two hour journey, and the car can select the best pictures based on user preferences to upload to social media. In addition to documenting a journey, the feature is also designed to help the car learn about a driver’s interests and adapt accordingly.
Another feature ERL is developing called Smart Accessories allows items such as surfboards and bikes on an attached rack to link to the car through the cloud. If such as items gets stolen, drivers can be alerted via a smartphone or smartwatch.
We have previously reported how collaboration between automakers and SV tech companies has accelerated development of infotainment app development. We expect to see similar compressed development cycles of autonomous vehicles, driver assist, safety and convenience features as a by-product of this collaboration.
Source: Eight pieces of advanced VW Group tech coming soon – Autocar