Switzerland has self-driving cars too

Over the past 12 months we’ve seen more driverless cars than have ever been unveiled in the history of man. Whether we’re talking Google, Baidu, BMW, Volvo or one of the many other auto-makers and tech giants that have been developing automated vehicles, there’s plenty out there and all of them are impressive. Still, one more wouldn’t hurt right?

In an announcement from Swiss telecoms company, Swisscom AG, the firm showed off its new automated Volkswagon Passat, which is currently undergoing a trial that began last week, with it set to complete this Thursday.

While some share holders and commenters have wondered aloud why a company that’s main business is providing internet and telephone services to households around the small nation, Swisscom released a statement explaining that it wasn’t trying to supplant anyone in the automotive industry. Instead, it sees itself as perfectly placed to augment currently available technologies, since one of the biggest aspects of driverless cars, is that they require a strong networking backbone, which is something Swisscom believes it can provide.


Look mum,. no hands!

“Swisscom is not turning into a car manufacturer,” a spokesperson said. “But future innovations in the automotive industry will centre on networking with the environment. For this reason, the driverless car is a prime example of digitisation and therefore of great interest to us.”

Even if Swisscom doesn’t ever go ahead in making its own car however, the algorithms it’s put together to operate even minor driver-free scenarios is impressive, especially for a company with no history of this sort of development. It may be that another auto-maker may be interested in that sort of technology if it’s own developments are lagging behind the trend.

Since Google recently announced that several of its autonomous cars have been involved in accidents – though they didn’t “cause” them – people of course wanted to know if Swisscom’s cars had run into similar problems. Apparently they had, though on a much smaller scale.

When speaking with project partners AutoNomos Labs from Germany, RT found out that that only four of the Swisscom vehicles had been involved in an accident. Considering nearly 50 have been in operation for more than a week now, that’s not a bad record.

In comparison, Google’s vehicles have been involved in 11 incidents over nearly a million miles of testing. However we’ve been told that at no time were they responsible, with the most common problem being quick braking causing drivers behind to rear end the autonomous cars.

Image source: Swisscom

    Jon Martindale

    Jon Martindale is an English author and journalist, who's written for a number of high-profile technology news outlets, covering everything from the latest hardware and software releases, to hacking scandals and online activism.

    All author posts