Meet Sedric -- your driverless chauffeur from Volkswagen

sedric concept car self driving
Credit: Volkswagen

Autonomous cars are all the rage these days, and Volkswagen is getting in on the action.

The automaker showed off its latest design at the Geneva Auto Show, and it certainly has people talking. And the fact that most are trying to figure out what the car looks like is beside the point. 

In IT Blogwatch, we go for a ride.

So what is going on? Kirsten Korosec has some background:

Volkswagen's latest vision of the future is a "subtly wedged shaped" electric and autonomous concept vehicle that looks...like the portable cassette boom box players of the 1980s. Either that or a canister vacuum -- minus the attachment.

That doesn't clear things up much. Can you we get more information? Jason Torchinsky is happy to comply:

This is the Volkswagen Sedric Concept. The name is a combination of the words “self-driving car”...the Sedric is a concept of an Autonomous Level 5 car, which means that no human is involved in driving the thing...It’s not even an option...this is no longer a car as we understand them. It’s a robot that can take you places.

Wait, driving it isn't even an option? Viknesh Vijayenthiran fills us in:

You won’t find a steering wheel or pedals here. Instead, commands can...be stated out loud...a passenger could tell the car what route to take to reach a destination or at what time they’d like to reach it. And while on the journey, they could read a book, take a nap or stay entertained via the windshield which doubles as a large LED screen with augmented reality.

Anything else important about the design? Wayne Cunningham has some more details:

Volkswagen describes the Sedric as a "comfortable lounge on wheels" that you can summon with the touch of a button.
...
The...Sedric seems designed around the interior, creating a space for people to ride and carry luggage or cargo. It features two full-size seats...and two jump seats...that can be folded out of the way...the Sedric [has] a flat battery pack in the floor and an electric drive motor to turn the wheels.

What else makes this thing go? Andrew English is in the know:

The electrical underpinnings and the chassis are based on VW's MEB electrical architecture...with 60kwh battery pack mounted under the floor giving about 400km (249 miles) of range.
...
To make the technology work, Sedric is equipped with [an]...array of radar, camera and Lidar sensors. There are four Lidar "pucks" mounted on the roof for wide-angle views in the near distance and another set of narrow-angle Lidar sensors mounted at bumper height.

How does Volkswagen see people using Sedric? David Gluckman has that info:

Sedric's control interface is described...as "The Button." This would...act as a remote -- at a press of The Button, the user gets a notification of when a Sedric will arrive, and those with vision issues get guided to it.
...
VW's vision of the future seems...mildly fanciful. After dropping you...off, Sedric can...go pick up...groceries or other packages. You can control it...with your voice or through a smartphone app, theoretically. Sedric can converse like a a personal assistant. The windshield doubles as an OLED screen to display information, communications, and augmented reality experiences.

Why is a car like this important to Volkswagen? Arjun Kharpal keeps us informed:

Volkswagen...is keen to show it can innovate and be relevant following the carmaker's emissions cheating scandal which has left it facing hefty fines. The...brand is finding it difficult to plot a course for the future amid competition and litigation.

So what are people saying about Sedric? PfRC has a comment:

Sedric...looks like an angry toaster.
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