Does Volkswagen Have a Self-Driving Car?

While there’s no fully self-driving Volkswagen, the 2021 Jetta is one model that offers impressive driver-assistance technology.
Written by Sara Brody
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Volkswagen’s Driver Assistance Technology System, available on the 2021 Volkswagen Jetta, is a Level 2 autonomous system that puts the German manufacturers a step closer to a genuine self-driving car. 
Self-driving cars represent the future of transit, but how soon can we expect them to be part of everyday life? While some high-tech companies like
are in a hurry to create truly autonomous cars, other automakers are developing driver-assistance technology that brings familiar models closer to true self-driving capabilities. 
Volkswagen is among those automakers—and we're here to fill you in on Volkswagen’s self-driving future. 
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Does Volkswagen have a self-driving car?

In brief: not yet, but one day!
To elaborate, Volkswagen’s current models offer a comprehensive suite of driver-assistance features, showcased impressively in the 2021
Volkswagen Jetta
. However, other models like the Golf, Touareg, Passat, and Beetle also offer strong driver-assistance intelligence to make driving safer and easier. 
Here are some of the features you can expect to find in a Volkswagen Level 2 autonomous system:
  • Front assist, including a Forward Collision Warning System and Autonomous Emergency Braking. These features use sensors to monitor traffic, alert you of a potential collision, and help the car brake automatically if necessary.
  • Blind spot monitor, which uses sensors to alert you of what you might miss in your blind spots while driving.
  • Rear traffic alert with sensors on both sides of the rear bumper to alert you of vehicles crossing your path when in reverse.
  • Lane assist, which alerts you if you start to drift into another lane without using your turn signal. In most models, this feature will also help steer you into the correct lane.
  • Park assist, which judges if a parking spot is big enough for your Volkswagen and helps you steer the vehicle into the space.
  • Adaptive cruise control, which helps maintain a fixed preset distance from the car in front of you, adapting fluidly to how that car behaves on the road.
  • Park pilot, with sensors that help you back out of or drive into a parking spot.
  • Area view, an optional feature that uses multiple cameras to give you a 360-degree view while driving.
  • Light assist, with high beam control to provide better visibility on dark roads.
With such an expansive array of driver-assistance features, it should be no surprise that Volkswagen is a leader in paving the way for the future of self-driving cars. 
Key Takeaway While fully autonomous cars do not yet exist, Volkswagen’s current fleet of models offers impressive driver assistance technology. 
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How do self-driving cars work? 

When you picture a self-driving car, you probably imagine a vehicle that drives itself entirely on its own, without any need for human input. But while that might be possible in the future, current technology is not yet advanced enough. The present reality is a bit more complicated. 
Self-driving cars are outfitted with various technologies—including video cameras, LiDAR sensors, deep learning systems, and powerful algorithms—to plan driving actions and execute driving functions while monitoring conditions for safety. Put simply, the car scans its environment and uses that data to guide driving, without requiring direct assistance from humans
The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) has defined six levels of autonomous vehicles (AVS): 
  • Level 0: No automation. At all times, the human driver is entirely in control of all driving tasks. 
  • Level 1: Driver assistance. One driving task (steering, acceleration, or braking) is handled by driver-assistance technology, while the human controls everything else. 
  • Level 2: Partial automation. The driver must stay fully engaged, but two or more automated functions can operate at once. (Volkswagen’s Jetta is a Level 2 system.)
  • Level 3: Conditional automation. The car can drive itself under some conditions, but the driver must be ready to reclaim control at any moment. 
  • Level 4: High automation. The car can drive itself under some conditions without requiring a human to assist. 
  • Level 5: Full automation. The car can drive itself under all conditions and doesn’t require human assistance.
Level 5 self-driving cars are still years away, and they may not solve every problem on the road today.  The
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)
notes that fully autonomous vehicles may not prevent most of the crashes that take place on US roads and highways today
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The 6 best Volkswagens with self-driving technology

Along with the Jetta, Volkswagen has a range of models that offer impressive self-driving technology. With over a dozen options to choose from, we’ll take a look at a few top offerings.
Vehicle type
Standard safety technology
Starting price
Compact hatchback
Compact sedan
Mid-sized SUV
Compact sedan
Compact car
Mid-sized SUV
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