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VW tests self-driving cars on the streets of Hamburg

The dry run takes it one step closer to its 2025 goals.

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VW will need to hustle if it's going to make automated driving a practical reality by 2025, and it appears it's moving quickly. The automaker is now testing self-driving versions of the e-Golf in real-world conditions in Hamburg -- the first time its driverless vehicles have roamed a major German city. They're Level 4 vehicles (fully autonomous in most situations) that will putt around a roughly 1.9-mile section of a "digital test bed," but they'll have to contend with urban traffic like anyone else.

The cars will be loaded to the hilt with sensors, including 14 (!) cameras, 11 laser scanners and seven radars, not to mention enough computing to rival "15 laptops." This is still early tech, then, although it will ensure that the car isn't caught off-guard by pedestrians or less-than-courteous cars.

The testing should portend greater things. VW plans to integrate the lessons learned into "customer-centric services," so you could see this used in everything from future ride hailing services to cars you can buy yourself. It may take a long time, though. VW would ideally support complete autonomy (Level 5) before hitting the road in earnest, and it'll require the cooperation of more than one or two cities to become a common sight.

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