The all-new Volkswagen Polo is almost here, and the biggest highlight is that it is going to be one of the world’s first small cars capable of Level 2 automated driving.
To be more specific, the all-new Polo will be able to steer, brake and accelerate automatically on request thanks to the optional IQ.DRIVE Travel Assist.
First time in a Polo
These technologies have up to now only been available in larger models such as the Golf, Tiguan, Passat, Arteon and Touareg. As a first in its class, the Polo now also permits partly automated driving across the entire speed range.
According to Volkswagen, the IQ.Drive Travel Assist feature is extremely easy to use, using nothing more than a button on the steering wheel. This is due to the fact that the system is based on the fusion of Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) and adaptive lane guidance, combining for lateral and longitudinal guidance.
How does it work?
How it works is that the ACC ensures that the Polo automatically maintains the permitted speed currently selected by the driver. Thanks to camera-based Dynamic Road Sign Display, the Polo “knows” how fast it is allowed to drive.
Using radar sensor technology, it also detects if a slower vehicle appears in front of it. It then brakes the Polo, and therefore always keeps the correct, safe following distance.
In other words, the Polo brakes, accelerates and steers automatically within the system limits. However, the driver must keep their hands on the steering wheel, as they are always responsible for judging the traffic situation and controlling vehicle behaviour. The driver signals this preparedness via the capacitive surfaces of the steering wheel rim, which respond to touch.
With the manual 5- and 6-speed gearboxes, IQ.DRIVE Travel Assist can be used from a speed of 30 km/h to the maximum speed (210 km/h). If the Polo is fitted with a 7-gear dual clutch gearbox (DSG), the assist system is already available from a speed of 0 km/h.
With IQ.DRIVE Travel Assist and DSG it is therefore possible to drive with assistance and thus more comfortably in stop-and-go traffic jam situations. Those who prefer active driving can simply ignore the button for activation of IQ.DRIVE Travel Assist.
Adaptive Cruise Control is key
However, partly automated assist systems relieve the strain on drivers, especially on long journeys. And that’s what it’s all about: more comfort. IQ.DRIVE Travel Assist and ACC are available for the Polo as components of the optional IQ.DRIVE package. Lane Assist is already included in the generally standard assist systems for the new Polo.
Internationally, driving automation is classified into six levels, from Level 0 to Level 5. In Level 0, there is no support from intervening assist systems. In Level 1, the vehicle assists either lateral or longitudinal guidance and the driver is responsible for the other part.
However, IQ.DRIVE Travel Assist meets the requirements of Level 2 partly automated driving by taking over both lateral and longitudinal guidance at the same time.
What is Level 2?
Taking into account the legal situation and with respect to safety, Level 2 is considered the current status quo. For safety reasons, the driver must still continuously monitor the system. Only when this is no longer necessary does the highly automated Level 3 kick in – the next big leap.
In Level 3, the driver must nevertheless be potentially prepared to take the wheel again on request. In fully-automated Level 4, the driver hands over the responsibility completely to the vehicle in specific cases – such as on the motorway. If the vehicle generally travels without a driver from the start to the destination, this is regarded as Level 5; the hardware and software for this could be available in the next decade.