Audi revealed on Wednesday that its fully self-driving car will be due to hit the roads in 2021 and will be based on its Aicon concept car unveiled at the 2017 Frankfurt auto show.
The Aicon is a fully electric, fully self-driving car that has no steering wheel and no pedals, and Audi is planning a future where the vehicle can be hailed for rides in busy urban environments.
Urban environments with highly detailed maps are where Audi’s first self-driving cars will patrol, with the automaker to initially test a pilot fleet in 2021.However, Audi is yet to mention what location(s) the pilot fleet will run in and in what capacity.
Should all go as planned, Audi will offer a production self-driving car by the middle of the next decade, the automaker’s R&D chief Peter Mertens said in a statement.
Audi and fellow Volkswagen Group brands are working with America’s Aurora Innovation to develop their self-driving technology. Aurora is a company founded in 2016 by engineers who previously worked for self-driving teams at Waymo, Uber, and Tesla, and the company has been working with the VW Group for the past year. It’s also working with Hyundai and Chinese electric car startup Byton.
Waymo is currently at the forefront of self-driving technology as the company plans to start a commercial ride-hailing service with self-driving cars this year. The service will cover an area of 100 square miles in Phoenix, Arizona. Importantly, the cars within this geofenced area will be able to operate on their own 100 percent of the time.