“We have completed the development stage. Now it’s time to set up a real mobility operation, and I’m moving there to do that,” Jungwirth said.
The vehicles on Moia’s fleet haven’t yet been confirmed, but the cost of equipping a vehicle in the early stages of the technology can only be borne by a fleet vehicle, such as a T5 van or possibly the Budd-e concept, based on the upcoming ID electric hatchback. As parts costs drop in the following decades, the tech can trickle down to private-buyer vehicles.
“The cost per vehicle is likely to be around $10k-$15k (about £7-£11k) extra in the early stages. That can be justified only for business users,” said Jungwirth.
Adding self-driving technology to Level 4/5 on a fleet vehicle can be offset by the money saved by not having to employ drivers.
Volkswagen has demonstrated its Sedric pod, which is slated for launch after 2023, together with several aspects of its Level 4/5 technology. Two project milestones are due this September for the Sedric project: proof of concept and a user study into the interior and exterior, including the human-machine interface (HMI).
The fundamental engineering work is being carried out on a fleet of e-Golfs modified with five roof-mounted lidar sensors, four bumper-mounted lidar sensors, a forward-facing video camera and four short-range radar sensors converted from use for adaptive cruise control.
In-car control is by a neural network computer, which, despite being compact, is powerful enough to process up to 20TB of data per day.
Significant work is going into calibrating the forward-facing camera as the ‘eyes’ of the self-driving technology to recognise pedestrians and be capable of stopping on zebra crossings, for example, or predicting if a pedestrian will suddenly step into the road.