VOLKSWAGEN is for the first time testing a fleet of five near-driverless cars in urban traffic in the city of Hamburg. The e-Golf cars, developed by Volkswagen Group Research, have taken to the streets of Hamburg. They have 11 laser scanners, seven radars and 14 cameras all of which will generate up to 5 gigabytes of data per minute during the test drives, with each lasting several hours.

Specially trained test drivers will be seated behind the steering wheel during the drives to monitor driving functions and intervene in an emergency.

Results will be used in the group’s various research projects on automated driving, and will test customer-centric services and optimise individual transport.

The cars will be tested at Level 4: high automation, just one level down from the much sought-after “full automation”.

A 9km (5.5m) digital test bed is currently being built in the city, which is upgrading traffic lights to allow communication between them and the high-tech vehicles.

Axel Heinrich, head of Volkswagen Group Research, said: “The tests centre on technical possibilities as well as urban infrastructure requirements.

“In order to make driving even safer and more comfortable in future, vehicles not only have to become autonomous and more intelligent – cities must also provide a digital ecosystem that enables vehicles to communicate with traffic lights and traffic management systems as well as with one another.”


THEY appear to be welcoming the trials, which will see the city work to become a “model for intelligent mobility”.

Michael Westhagemann, Hamburg’s senator for economics, transport and innovation, said: “Two and a half years from now, Hamburg will be hosting the World Congress for Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS). Automated driving will play a key role. I am delighted that our strategic partner Volkswagen has already become the first user for our digital test bed. We will establish Hamburg as a model city for intelligent mobility and be presenting numerous innovative mobility projects to a global audience in 2021.”


THE UK is being tipped as the world’s number one location for rolling out driverless car technology, which could boost the economy by £62 billion a year, a report from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has claimed. Chief executive Mike Hawes said: “The UK’s potential is clear. We are ahead of many rival nations but to realise these benefits we must move fast.

Brexit has undermined our global reputation for political stability and it continues to devour valuable time and investment.

“We need the deadlock broken with no-deal categorically ruled out and a future relationship agreed that reflects the integrated nature of our industry and delivers frictionless trade.”