Peugeot’s new-generation 508, due in 2017, will launch with an array of systems that will represent a significant step towards fully autonomous driving.
Among the advanced systems will be hands-free steering, joining an enhanced version of the automatic braking technologies that many cars - including the current 508 - now feature as part of their Autonomous Emergency Braking and Active Cruise Control systems.
Speaking with shareholders at the French carmaker’s annual meeting in April, PSA Peugeot Citroen boss Carlos Tavares said the new 508 will be the first Peugeot to feature hands-free steering.
Full details have not been revealed, although Tavares confirmed the systems will be able to operate in traffic congestion and at highway speeds.
The hands-free function will differ from a fully autonomous system, however, in that it will act as more of an advanced lane-keep assistance feature, keeping the vehicle on course.
It will likely not be able to change lanes, turn corners or negotitate with traffic at intersections, as that level of control requires systems that most carmakers don’t expect to have ready until closer to 2020.
Likewise, there are significant legislative obstacles to be overcome before fully autonomous vehicles will be allowed to operate on public roads. (Although a number of brands have now secured specialised licensing to test their self-driving cars on open roads in the US.)
The new 508, which will be built on Peugeot’s new EMP2 platform, is expected to launch in 2017. A concept preview could appear in the year ahead.