VW CEO Expects Self-Driving Cars on the Road by 2025-2030

(Noted News) — Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess says he expects autonomous vehicles to be for sale and ready for the road sometime between 2025 and 2030. 

In an interview with German magazine Wirtschaftswoche, Diess said that an acceleration of the progress of computer chip technology is driving the development of self-driving vehicles and making them a viable market for the near future. 

Since the computer chips for autonomous driving are “doubling in performance every 18 months,” Diess believes that “It is foreseeable that these systems will soon be able to cope with the complex situations of autonomous driving. Next year Tesla will come up with a system that will triple its output compared to the previous one.”

Diess trusts self-driving cars from first-hand experience; a year and a half ago he test-drove an autonomous Waymo car and was thoroughly impressed. 

“That was impressive. In a quiet traffic environment, with good weather and speeds below 70 kilometers per hour, it all works quite well. “

The VW chief also has a lot of faith in Tesla, noting that their constant collection of their driver’s data is driving the development of artificial intelligence technology, making Tesla a lot more than just a car company.

“One of Tesla’s strengths is that, with their now very large fleet of vehicles, they are constantly collecting driving data and using artificial intelligence to make the system better and better. If you will, Tesla isn’t just a car company, it’s a neural network that is learning to drive better and better.” 

Last month, Volkswagen announced that it was increasing its spending on researching technologies for electric and self-driving vehicles to €73 billion, up from €60 billion last year. This investment includes allocating capital to VW’s new “Car.Software” organization, which aims to create a proprietary software stack that can be added to Audi’s Artemis project for a self-driving electric car. 

Diess has stated that Germany and Europe at large have a disadvantage compared to China and the United States because of a lack of sizeable software companies and semiconductor manufacturers.

“There are high-tech companies there, major software developers, that possess the necessary capital for technologies like autonomous driving.” 

Because of this disadvantage, Diess is pleased with the German government’s initiative to promote the research and development of artificial intelligence technology, which is aimed at “increasing and consolidating Germany’s future competitiveness by making Germany and Europe a leading center in AI; guaranteeing a responsible development and deployment of AI which serves the good of society; integrating AI in society in ethical, legal, cultural and institutional terms in the context of a broad societal dialogue and active political measures.”

Waymo is a subsidiary of Google and has a one or two-year lead in research over everyone else in artificial intelligence. However, Volkswagen is “determined to catch up,” by working on getting their autonomous driving technologies into Germany, the west coast of the U.S., and China. 

The German giant is also working on many important partnerships, joining forces with Mobileeye and Champion Motors to develop the first self-driving, ride-hailing service to be deployed in Israel by 2022. This project’s eventual goal is to provide customers with a full turn-key hardware and software self-driving system for driverless cars. It has the full support of the Israeli government.

“We firmly believe that self-driving electric vehicles will offer Israel and cities around the world safe, clean, and emission-free mobility, which is accessible and convenient. We are looking forward to this partnership with our local partners Mobileye and Champion Motors from Israel,” Diess said.

Volkswagen has also partnered with Apollo, a Chinese technology platform which was founded by Baidu, who is deeply involved in researching and developing new technology for driverless cars.

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