Volkswagen Group has started testing self-driving versions of its Golf compact car on the streets of Hamburg.
The vehicles will navigate a 3-km (1.9-mile) area in the northern German city, which is also building a new testing ground complete with intelligent traffic lights.
The tests involve five electric versions of the Golf, equipped with Level 4 self-driving technology. The cars have drivers who can intervene to take the wheel, as well as lasers, radars and scanners.
"To make driving even safer and more comfortable in future, vehicles not only have to become autonomous and more intelligent -- cities must also provide a digital ecosystem that enables vehicles," Axel Heinrich, VW's head of research said Wednesday in a statement.
VW's testing is part of the car industry's race to keep up with Waymo, the autonomous driving unit of Alphabet's Google, which is widely seen as the leader for future robotaxis.
To advance the effort and save costs, companies are also forming alliances, including BMW's plan to team up with Daimler on self-driving cars.
BMW has been testing Level 4 vehicles in Munich since 2017.
Autonomous vehicles are ranked on a scale from one to five, ranging from cars without any assistance systems to vehicles without drivers. Level 4 or "mind off" cars can drive themselves in most situations but have steering wheels so the driver can take control.
While most automakers are pushing for cars that will eventually be driverless, some like PSA Group have decided to pull back for cost reasons.