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VW to offer LV4 autonomous car by 2026, using Computer Vision software by CARIAD and hardware by Qualcomm, Mobileye relegated to Level 2+

Herbert Diess is the Chairman of the Board at Volkswagen Group and posted an important announcement on LinkedIn, regarding their future ambitions for autonomous vehicles.

The post details that VW will offer a new, level 4 autonomous vehicle in 2026. What’s really interesting is the dramatic shift in autonomous vehicle platforms. Previously we’d seen VW testing AV products by Mobileye, but the Volkswagen Group will now move to use hardware by Qualcomm.

The Volkswagen project #Trinity will feature Level 4 autonomy, which means according to the SAE Levels that this vehicle will be able to drive itself in most environments. It can be used for robotaxi services and may or may not have a steering wheel and pedals.

Diess says to achieve this, it is necessary to have a high-performance chip and that will be a system-on-chips (SoCs) designed by Qualcomm, an expert in chip design with over 140,000 patents.

The post goes on to explain Diess met with Qualcomm-CEO Cristiano R. Amon and their Automotive Chief Nakul Duggal two weeks ago. The VW cars will run Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Ride platform and will be used in all Group vehicles. This means we could see autonomous products from the likes of VW, Skoda, Seat, Cupra, Audi, Porsche and Bently, while the group also includes Lamborghini, I don’t think we should expect to see the tech applied there any time soon.

On the software front, it’s time to learn about CARIAD. CARIAD is the automotive software company within the Volkswagen Group and having been established in 2020, has the ambitious task of delivering a Level 4 autonomous vehicle for VW in by 2026, just 4 years from now.

CARIAD’s website says about 10% of the software code in Volkswagen Group is written in-house. CARIAD aims to increase the proportion of in-house software development to 60% by 2025. Strategic co-operations support our way of scaling our competence: With Microsoft, for example, we have built the Volkswagen Automotive Cloud and are teaming up to develop an Automated Driving Platform, a development framework for automated driving functions.

On CARIAD’s hardware page, they detail some information about their tech stack:

The hardware layer consists of sensors and actuators – like cameras and radarwhich make advanced driver assistance systems possible.

Those paying attention to the autonomous vehicle space will know this reference to camera and radar sounds an awful lot like they’re planning on using computer vision to power their autonomous efforts, following in the footsteps of Tesla.

What it does not include is hardware like Lidar, something that Mobileye relies on.

The connected and automated car of the future is a high-performance computer on wheels. Behind it lies enormously complex computing power. With our automated driving solutions, we are striving to let customers take their hands off the steering wheel in the future.

Our software and Qualcomm Technologies’ high-performance SoCs are the perfect match to bring this new automotive experience to customers around the world.

CARIAD CEO Dirk Hilgenberg

We look forward to supporting CARIAD and its suppliers to deliver scalable and secure automated driving functions for Volkswagen Group vehicles through their selection of our open and programmable Snapdragon Ride Platforms.

As the amount of innovation and complexities increase, strong collaborations such as ours with CARIAD are a necessity to not only address aggressive time-to-market goals, but to deliver safe and reliable automated driving experiences for all.”

Nakul Duggal, senior vice president & GM, automotive, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.

If VW actually do have a level 4 autonomous vehicle ready by 2026, countries like Australia really need to get their legislation ready to support this.

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