The ID. Buzz – essentially an all-electric, updated version of what we in Australia know as the Volkswagen Kombi – will be the first VW vehicle to feature self-driving technology, and will be used for “robo-taxi” services.
In an announcement on Saturday (Europe time), Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles outlined its plan to add autonomous driving to the ID. Buzz, which it says it would use in a ride-sharing and carpooling program much like its Moia program in Hamburg and Hanover.
As with Moia which, until it went on hold due to Coronavirus, uses all-electric vans to provide carpooling services to customers who send ride requests via an app, the autonomous ID. Buzz would offer rides to passengers but without the need for a driver.
Testing for Volkswagen’s autonomous program will commence in 2021, using software and hardware developed by Argo AI, a self-driving start-up in which both Volkswagen and Ford have invested equally.
In addition to an initial $1 billion ($A1.29 billion) in funding injection, Volkswagen brought its self-driving subsidiary AID (Autonomous Intelligent Driving) under the Argo AI wing.
“With the confirmation of the group’s supervisory board for our Autonomous Driving R&D program, we are setting the course for the future of mobility,” said Carsten Intra, CEO of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles via a statement.
“Autonomous, electric driving will make an important contribution to urban mobility and road safety. Our vehicles are the logical first choice to apply such systems to.”
In addition to the development of an all-electric, autonomous ID. Buzz, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles will also develop other autonomous electric vehicles including “robo-taxs” and vans.
It says it is also injecting billions into its other self-driving program, Car.Software Organisation, which is looking to provide autonomous technology for the private car sector under the eye of Audi CEO Markus Duesmann.
The ID. Buzz will be unveiled by Volkswagen in 2022, with a view to its use in public autonomous services by 2025.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.