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A compact preview of autonomous driving

Those who seek

Those who seek to enjoy the benefits of partly automated driving do not necessarily need to look beyond the realm of medium-sized cars. With the new Polo, Volkswagen has a compact model in its portfolio, which can independently support important driving processes. But how does the functionality actually work?

Level 2 already awaits today
Get in the car, glide through the streets and onto the motorway – a daily routine for many company car drivers. And on largely straight stretches of road, in particular, it’s not long before the tedium of regular journeys sets in. The desire for self-driving cars could hardly be more pronounced at such moments. An initial taste of what is to come is already offered today by the next generation Volkswagen Polo, among others.

With its optional IQ.DRIVE package, Volkswagen combines an entire series of assist systems, which can make driving not only more comfortable and convenient but also safer. On the path to autonomous driving, therefore, Level 2 can now be experienced for the first time in a compact class model too. This means that several simultaneously active systems support drivers with central processes within their system limits – from accelerating and steering to braking and parking. The driver remains responsible, however, for all driving manoeuvres. But even these Level 2 functions boost comfort considerably, for instance by supporting users on longer journeys with making phone calls or in meetings. And particularly so on long motorways stretches or in traffic jams.


Perfect for tedious routes – the Travel Assist
But what exactly lies behind the new Polo’s IQ.DRIVE in terms of the technology? First and foremost is Travel Assist. It can be activated at the press of a button on the multifunction steering wheel and, within its system limits, supports the compact Volkswagen when steering, braking and accelerating – with variable adjustment for speeds of up to 210 km/h. The system uses proven technology to do this: the adaptive cruise control (ACC) feature provides assistance for forward guidance, while the standard Lane Assist is used for sideways guidance of the vehicle, enhanced by adaptive lane guidance.


With the adaptive cruise control (ACC) the Polo drives at the predefined speed and automatically maintains the set distance to vehicles travelling ahead¹⁾.

The fully predictive ACC experience is based on interaction between the front camera and the GPS and map data of the optional navigation systems. Thanks to this high-tech bundle, the Polo drives at the predefined speed and automatically maintains the set distance to vehicles travelling ahead1). In addition, Dynamic Road Sign Display and/or map data allows the system to recognise the official speed limits on the particular road and adapts the speed independently when approaching bends, intersections and roundabouts. In this partly automated mode, the Polo offers a very comfortable drive and helps the driver comply with the applicable rules automatically and optimally. In the event of traffic jams too, the vehicle brakes and starts1) – automatically within a time corridor lasting a few seconds. A major help during rush hour.

The integrated capacitive steering wheel makes sure that hands really do remain on the wheel – as prescribed in Level 2. Thanks to the touch-sensitive surface, it detects independently whether the Polo is actually still in the hands of the driver. If the steering wheel remains untouched for more than ten seconds, the Polo uses visual and acoustic signals to raise an alert. In a physical emergency, the vehicle would be brought functionally to a halt in the further course of this warning cascade with controlled adaptive lane guidance and forward control.

Parking magic, everyday assistance
The Park Assist ensures another partly automated wow effect. Not only does it scan whether a space is big enough to park in when driving by at a maximum speed of 40 km/h. It also automatically steers the Polo into the space within the limits of the system – regardless of whether it is a parallel or perpendicular space. The driver just needs to operate the clutch, accelerator and brake. The Park Assist does the rest1).


Also the Park Assist automatically steers the Polo into the space within the limits of the system. The driver just needs to operate the clutch, accelerator and brake. The Park Assist does the rest¹⁾.

The IQ.DRIVE package also includes a number of other assist systems that provide support outside of partly automated driving. For instance, the standard Front Assist uses radar sensors to keep an eye on the surroundings ahead, including pedestrians. At the first sign of critical situations with inadequate distances, the Front Assist system first issues a warning and then intensifies braking – or initiates braking itself if the driver does not respond in time1).

In an ideal scenario, therefore, collisions in heavy city and motorway traffic can be prevented where necessary or the severity of potential accidents reduced. The Polo also offers another assistant to provide added safety: the Side Assist. It automatically recognises other vehicles approaching from behind in the blind spot or at a distance of up to 50 metres. As soon as a car approaches, a yellow LED light illuminates in the exterior mirror1). If a planned lane change is too tight, the Side Assist visually increases the alarm level by flashing faster1).

Sneak preview of what’s in store with Level 4
The current IQ.DRIVE innovations are just the start. Volkswagen has long since been committed to making the next levels of autonomous driving standard for the broad masses. The ID. VIZZION and Trinity studies convey initial impressions in this regard. Higher automation levels will also be possible in the future with these two high-tech saloons, allowing the driver to lean back from start to finish or do some work during the journey.

The Trinity is set to be launched on the market from 2026. Meanwhile, the fully autonomous ID. VIZZION, the elegant avant-garde Gran Turismo model, is expected to hit the roads from 2030. The basis for this has already been achieved, thanks to a fundamentally new electronic and software architecture, which even today offers drivers a high level of safety and comfort.


1)Within the limits of the system.

Status: 29.10.2021

© Volkswagen AG

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