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Like it or not, self-driving cars will eventually end up on our roads. But when? Everyone seems to have their own idea, but if former Volkswagen and Apple executive Johann Jungwirth is to be believed, it's going to happen sooner than we think.

In fact, when it comes to self-driving vehicles, Jungwirth expects big things in the domain in the near-future, reports Automotive News.

Now a vice president at Intel-owned Mobileye, Jungwirth says driverless cabs will be on the road in Germany by next year.

Mobileye, which supplements its camera-based driver assistance systems with help from Luminar (a lidar manufacturer), has gotten approval to test Level 4 technology in Germany, the country closest to allowing driverless vehicle technology to be commercialized.

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Johann Jungwirth of Mobileye
Johann Jungwirth of Mobileye

Mobileye expects robot cab fleets to achieve Level 4 capability, which means the vehicles will be able to do the driving, between 2022 and 2025.

As of 2024 and especially 2025, Jungwirth believes Level 4 will be offered as standard equipment on high-end vehicles and the technology will be offered as an option within other segments.

“At that point a person can decide whether to purchase a car with or without a steering wheel,” he said at a conference on smart cars organized by Automobilwoche, sister publication of Automotive News Europe.

That may sound like pie-in-the-sky optimism, but with all the concepts being shown without steering wheels in recent years, it makes you wonder. The latest to appear is the Audi Grandsphere, unveiled just last week. The interior of luxury sedan can be transformed into a living room, with the steering wheel tucked away and out of sight, and the driver's seat can recline up to a 60-degree angle.

Audi executives have stated that they intend to sell a vehicle compatible with Level 4 technology to consumers by 2026.

It remains to be seen whether these future models can, or will, be delivered without a steering wheel.

Audi's Grandsphere concept
Photo: Audi
Audi's Grandsphere concept