Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, together with mobility service provider Moia and software company Argo AI, has unveiled plans for an autonomous ridepooling pilot project based on the all-electric VW ID. Buzz AD aims to develop an autonomous, internationally scalable ridepooling system in Hamburg by 2025.
The AD in the vehicle designation of the VW ID. Buzz AD stands for "Autonomous Driving". Ambitions in this direction have been known for some time: earlier this year, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles (VWN) officially announced that the ID. Buzz would also be the first vehicle in the Volkswagen Group to drive autonomously - using the self-driving system from Argo AI. Now, the commercial vehicle manufacturer is putting prototypes of the AD in the spotlight for the first time - without, however, going into technical data.
VWN is basically responsible for the development of autonomous driving systems and their commercial use under the umbrella of the Volkswagen Group. At that time in February, VWN already talked about wanting to prepare the ID. Buzz AD for a later application in mobility services. At that time, the manufacturer explicitly mentioned a ride-hailing and pooling approach in line with the concept of Moia - only with autonomously driving e-shuttles - as a use case. This idea is now taking further shape: Argo AI will start surveying the streets of the initial test area in a first step from the fourth quarter of 2021.
But first things first: The division of labour between the three partners is as follows: Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and Argo AI are developing the ID. Buzz AD, which will be equipped with self-driving hardware and software, including a combination of lidar, radar and camera systems. The ID. Buzz, which will celebrate its premiere next year, will serve as the basis.
"Volkswagen is investing in the future of mobility with AD. It underlines the strategic transformation from an automotive manufacturer to a leading global software-driven mobility provider," said Christian Senger, Head of Autonomous Driving at VWN, adding that the joint pilot project paves the way for the development of autonomous mobility services by Volkswagen. "In Hamburg, we are laying the foundations for the development and testing of technologies and operational processes along the multi-layered value chain of a mobility service."
Moia - also a VW subsidiary - is developing the autonomous ridepooling service as a complementary service, which primarily involves technologies to automate fleet operations (Is the right person getting on? Is the number of people right? etc.). Currently, the service is active with classic electric fleets in Hamburg and Hanover. Moia describes autonomous driving as "an important part of our business model," adding that autonomous ridepooling can improve urban mobility, increase road safety, and thus make cities more livable places.