Volkswagen Group Sedric concept, 2017 Geneva auto show
The Volkswagen Group is the latest firm to announce plans for a commercial ride-hailing service involving self-driving cars.
The German auto giant will join Intel's recently acquired self-driving car business Mobileye to develop the service whose development will commence in early 2019 and roll out in phases reaching full commercialization in 2022.
The service will initially be deployed in Israel where Mobileye is headquartered. Mobileye is also working with the BMW Group and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in the area of self-driving cars.
VW plans to form the joint venture New Mobility in Israel with Mobileye and fleet management company Champion Motors for the self-driving service. VW will supply electric cars which will operate at Level 4 self-driving capability using a modular self-driving system supplied by Mobileye. Champion Motors will run the fleet operations and control center, starting with several dozen cars and expanding this to hundreds.
A Level 4 self-driving car can operate without a driver in select conditions. The conditions usually include operating within a pre-determined, sufficiently mapped area, known as geo-fencing. They can also include weather restrictions. The ultimate goal is a Level 5 car which will be able to handle all the same conditions expected of a human.
Alphabet Inc.'s Waymo has promised the first commercial self-driving service by the end of 2018. Waymo's service will be launched in Phoenix, Arizona before spreading to more U.S. cities.
Pictured above is a fully self-driving concept known as the Sedric. It was unveiled by the VW Group in 2017 and previews the type of vehicle the automaker could use for an eventual self-driving service.