No More Retracting Steering Wheel, the First I.D. Sedan Concept Does Away with the Driver

Volkswagen has revealed its first level 5 autonomous concept, an artificially intelligent sedan that forecasts what it believes is the future of the car.

The I.D. Vizzion, like the I.D. Buzz and its ilk, is based on the MEB electric platform but does away with the pedals and steering wheel in favor of voice and gesture controls. Just tell the car where you want to go and it’ll take you there.

The concept is an illustration of what level 5 autonomy will be like. Volkswagen argues that such a car, without any human controls whatsoever, will be possible in 2030.

The key to accomplishing level 5 autonomy, believes VW, is self-learning. No, not what you did that night after watching an R-rated movie before you were supposed to but rather a complicated combination of algorithms to help the car recognize patterns and teach itself new behaviors.

Volkswagen believes that AI will be necessary for level 5 autonomy because of the varied challenges of being on the road and the many unexpected scenarios that drivers face every day.

On a single road, in fact, a car could come across a cyclist, a car, and an antelope, all of which require different behavior. More pertinently, though, not all of this road users can be predicted from a team of engineers in Wolfsburg.

To combat this, programmer are training vehicles, rather than giving them strict parameters—like, say, lane-keep assist would have.

Self-learning won’t be confined to safety, though. The Vizzion can also use it to predict learn better routes (how to avoid rush hour traffic, for instance) and to learn its occupants will want.

Volkswagen has taken the, it must be said, creepy view that people will want their biometrics read (or alternatively their smartphones) to have the car setup for their preferences. Without having to say a word the car will prepare itself for your seat, temperature, musical, and even scent preferences. Information, I’m sure, will never be sold to advertisers even a little bit.

As a result of all of this, the interior is designed to look more like a lounge than a car, says VW. Sure, says I. Why not.

As with other members of the I.D. family, the Vizzion has LED Matrix headlights that VW says will be able to project images onto the road for better communication with pedestrians (it can, for instance, project a zebra crossing onto the road to signal to people that they should walk).

Similarly, VW has turned the Vizzion’s back window into an OLED screen so that it can be used as an additional brake light, should an emergency require it. No doubt you could also hack it to share all kinds of lovely messages to the occupants behind you.

Another Vizzion’s occupants may not even notice if they’re in relax mode. This mode helps drivers kick their feet up with reclined seats and warm lighting, while the active mode puts the seats upright and the lights bright for a better work environment.

With the help of Microsoft’s Hololens, there’s also a hologram that you can interact with for meetings, calls, or learning activities.