In Depth

Audi targets 2021 for driverless car debut

Reports say the electric vehicle will be firm's 'second smallest car' and only built in small numbers

Audi has confirmed that it will launch a series of vehicles with autonomous driving technology by 2021. 

According to AutoExpress, the German car giant will produce an all-electric city vehicle "for initial low volume production" as the company looks to "take a leading role within the Volkswagen Group for driverless cars."

The vehicle will feature technology optimised for autonomous driving in urban environments, says the magazine, and is expected to adopt a similar shape to the Volkswagen Up! city car.  

Audi is expected to name the autonomous car the A0 or A2, says Autocar, although the former is more probable as the vehicle is expected to be smaller than the A1 hatchback.

Should this happen, the magazine says it "would be the second smallest car Audi has ever made". Only the company's Volkswagen Polo-based 50, which launched in 1974, would be smaller.

Audi is among several automakers targeting autonomous vehicle production for 2021.

Earlier this week, BMW said it intends to start production for its driverless iNext platform in four years' time.  

The iNext, which is being co-developed with Intel and Mobileye, is set to feature "level 3.5 autonomy", says Autocar. While this isn't one of the official five levels of autonomy, the magazine says the iNext "will bridge the gap between 3 and 4". 

BMW's autonomous platform is expected to be a "mid-size electric crossover designed around self-driving and connectivity", says Top Gear. It will compete against the likes of the Tesla Model X and electric Jaguar I-Pace, although the latter has not yet been confirmed as a driverless car. 

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