News Roundup: Volkswagen Unveils ‘Sedric,’ Its New Level 5 Autonomous Car, Truck Drivers Push Back Against Autonomous Trucks, and More

Jennifer van der Kleut

A look at some of the most interesting news to come out of the driverless transportation industry this week:

Volkswagen unveils ultra-modern-looking Level 5 autonomous car

No, this isn’t a giant Pokémon on wheels–it’s Volkswagen’s new fully autonomous concept car, named “Sedric” (a mashup of the term “self-driving car”), just unveiled this week. Volkswagen is hailing it as a Level 5 autonomous car, “capable of operating any driving mode in any environmental condition, allowing passengers to sit back and enjoy the ride.” The concept is evident by the car’s interior, designed to look more like a mobile lounge than the interior of a car. The car will be optimized for shared mobility, meaning passengers will have a “universal mobility ID” and be able to hail a Sedric from anywhere with their smartphones. Sedric will automatically recognize and remember each passenger when it arrives, allowing the passengers to talk to them in any language naturally, including with slang. Passengers will also be able to choose whether to look at the world passing by through the windshield, or choose entertainment like a movie or TV while they ride. Read more and see photos from SlashGear.


Trucking companies push back against autonomous trucks

The Alliance for Driver Safety and Security recently voiced its opposition to claims that autonomous trucks will soon take over the industry and cost truck drivers their jobs. Representatives say that the “accountability” of human drivers is too important to fully hand over to a machine, and that drivers should not be worried about losing their jobs to technology anytime soon, at least in the next few years. “A change to driverless vehicles will occur gradually–if at all,” the Alliance said recently. The organization represents major trucking companies like J.B. Hunt, Knight Transportation and KLLM Transportation, among others. “Truckers, after all, are not just operators but also cargo monitors and a key point of communication for logistics providers,” they explained. Read more from Supply Chain Dive.


Toyota unveils new autonomous concept car

The Toyota Research Institute (TRI) unveiled its new autonomous concept car, called the Toyota Advanced Safety Research Vehicle (TASRV), at the company’s annual Prius Challenge in Sonoma, California recently. The vehicle consists of Toyota’s plug-and-play autonomous system on a Lexus LS 600hL. Toyota representatives say the “flexible” system will be easy to upgrade often as the technology continues to advance. The on-board technology in the TASRV “focuses heavily on machine vision and machine learning and includes an array of layered and overlapping LIDAR, radar and camera sensors that reduce the need to rely on high-definition maps.” Toyota reps said they believe the technology will have invaluable applications throughout the industry as it helps bring driverless technology to areas without high-definition mapping. The car will also be able to share data with and gathered from other cars. Read more from Kelley Blue Book.