What might private vehicle ownership look like in a world where driving is no longer necessary? Volkswagen Group, the world’s biggest automaker by volume, is exploring just that with its Gen.Travel concept unveiled on Friday.
The Gen.Travel is an electric vehicle with a self-driving system rated at Level 5 on the SAE scale of self-driving capability. Level 5 is the ultimate goal for companies developing self-driving technology, as it means a vehicle that can handle all of the same situations as a human.
This capability has allowed the designers of the Gen.Travel to do away with a steering wheel and pedals. The seating is modular so that it can accommodate various functions. For example, a table can be installed and the chairs made to face it each other to create a lounge or office on wheels. Fully reclining seats can also be installed to create a bedroom on wheels. Voice activation and artificial intelligence can be used to control various functions.
Although the Gen.Travel isn’t destined for production, VW Group said it provides a realistic outlook for mobility in the coming decade. The concept also serves as a means to gather feedback as to what members of the public desire in a vehicle where driving is no longer required, and some of that feedback may end up shaping features appearing in production models, the automaker said.
VW Group, which presented a similar concept in 2017 called the Sedric, is developing a self-driving system for private vehicles via its Cariad software development arm. The automaker is also working with U.S. self-driving technology company Argo AI to develop a robotaxi service that is scheduled to offer its first rides in 2025. The service, which will use the Volkswagen ID.Buzz for the robotaxis, will initially launch in some German cities but VW Group plans to expand it to the U.S. The service will rank at Level 4 on the SAE scale, as the robotaxis will be limited in the areas in which they can operate, similar to the services currently run by Waymo and Cruise.
VW Group will present the Gen.Travel to the public for the first time at the Chantilly Arts & Elegance on this weekend at the Chateau de Chantilly, north of Paris. Renault will also use the event to unveil a concept.
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