A Visit to the Future
SEDRIC is the first concept car from the Volkswagen Group, the prototype of an autonomous vehicle. After being exhibited at international auto shows, it is now on public view until February 28 at the DRIVE. Volkswagen Group Forum in the center of Berlin. A visit to the future.
“Wow, that looks really futuristic,” says Rafael Martínez (29). He is talking about SEDRIC, the first autonomous vehicle from the Volkswagen Group. This concept car requires no driver and goes where it is needed at the touch of a button. “It would be a very convenient way to travel. I could use the time to relax, watch the scenery go by, or do some work,” says Rafael Martínez. He is one of the many people who are currently taking a close look at SEDRIC and finding out how it works.
SEDRIC comes to its passenger when summoned with the push of a button, navigates traffic, and makes all its own decisions. The concept car is suitable for car sharing and for personal use. SEDRIC can even perform errands, such as driving kids to school and then taking their parents to work, followed by collecting visitors from the station, picking up some shopping, and choosing a parking space – all at the push of a button, by voice command, or using the Volkswagen OneButton mobility app. This car of the future is likely to hit the roads in the middle of the next decade.
Trailblazing Concept Vehicle
Self-driving cars like SEDRIC offer many advantages. They produce no emissions when driving, and they lower accident rates by eliminating human error. They also improve parking conditions, as SEDRIC and his ilk simply travel to an assembly point when no longer needed. “SEDRIC also makes a huge social contribution by offering individual mobility to children as well as people who are blind, elderly, or sick,” says Johann Jungwirth, Chief Digital Officer of the Volkswagen Group. Its controls are intuitive and easy to use. They consist of a button and a ringer, which communicates the time of arrival with colored signals or vibrations.
SEDRIC is part of an integrated mobility concept for the road transport of the future. This concept vehicle symbolizes the transformation of the Volkswagen Group from “just” a carmaker to an integrated provider of hardware, software, and digital mobility services. SEDRIC was developed during a year-long collaboration between the Future Center Europe in Potsdam and the Volkswagen Group Research in Wolfsburg. A successful cooperation, which was recognized as “Innovation of the Year” at the Automotive Brand Contest 2017. After all, SEDRIC sets new standards in the fields of autonomous driving, electrification, and digital networking, all of which will be relevant in the future. This vision of mobility has been evolving continuously ever since. The most recent evolutionary stage forms the basis for a model family with a variety of members. There are plans for city cars, sports cars, travel limousines, and trucks. All these vehicles are designed for level 5, with no driver required.
High-tech Lounge on Wheels
SEDRIC has been receiving lavish praise for its outstanding product and communication design as well, for example from the German Design Council. “Powerful bodywork pillars, distinctive wheelhouses, and short overhangs give SEDRIC an impressively robust appearance as the epitome of safety and trustworthiness,” explains Michael Mauer, Head of Design at the Volkswagen Group. Inside SEDRIC is also eye-catching: it has no hood, no steering wheel, no pedals, and no cockpit. Instead it has a spacious interior with cork floors and birch leather seats. A mobile lounge for four to six people, with plenty of space for bags and suitcases – and a fresh indoor climate. This is provided by bamboo charcoal air filters and air-purifying plants positioned in front of the rear window.
The front windshield is a transparent high-resolution OLED screen, which passengers can use to play movies, make video calls, or view navigation maps. The technology installed in SEDRIC comes from the modular electric drive matrix (MEB), which the Volkswagen Group will use to build more than 30 electric vehicle models in the coming years. “The plethora of experience and the technological expertise that we have gained through the advanced development of SEDRIC will benefit all brands and therefore also our customers,” said Ulrich Eichhorn, Head of Research and Development at the Volkswagen Group.
The Future has begun
The battery is installed in the vehicle floor and has a range of 400 kilometers. The electric engine on the rear axle produces 100 kilowatts. The air conditioner and electronic intelligence of the self-driving system are located in the overhangs at the front and back. Inside there are just three buttons: “Go”, “Stop” and “Call”. Pressing the latter button connects passengers to a mobility center where Volkswagen employees deal with their requests. Passengers such as Rafael Martínez: “I can certainly imagine using SEDRIC. This is definitely the future of mobility,” saysthe visitor to the exhibition at the DRIVE. Volkswagen Group Forum. A future that has already begun.