VW unveils autonomous version of its electric camper van, the ID.Buzz
Image credit: vw
Volkswagen has unveiled a prototype for an autonomous version of its ID.Buzz electric minivan.
The vehicle was first unveiled in 2017 as a modernised, fully-electric update of the classic VW camper van.
The latest prototypes include a self-driving system developed by AI firm Argo, which comprises a suite of sensors (including cameras, radar and lidar), software and the computer platforms to provide a 360-degree awareness of the vehicle’s environment. The system allows it to predict the actions of pedestrians, bicyclists and vehicles, directing the engine, braking and steering systems in response.
VW said the current models can detect objects from a distance of more than 400m and its patented “Geiger-mode” technology is capable of detecting the smallest particles of light (a single photon), so that even objects with low reflectivity, like black-painted vehicles, can be detected.
The vehicles are being tested at a nine-hectare closed-course near Munich airport in order to replicate a variety of traffic situations unique to European driving conditions, in addition to other tests taking place at a track in the US.
“The ID.Buzz AD test fleet represents a milestone in our partnership with Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles,” said Bryan Salesky, founder and CEO of Argo AI.
“Building on our five years of development and learnings from our operations in large, complex US cities, we are excited to soon begin testing on the streets of Munich in preparation for the launch of the self-driving commercial ride-pooling service with MOIA.”
Christian Senger, VW’s head of autonomous driving, said: “An environment-recognition system from six lidar, eleven radar and fourteen cameras, distributed over the entire vehicle, can capture much more than any human driver can from his seat.”
Starting in 2025 in Hamburg, the self-driving vehicles will be used as part of the aforementioned ride-sharing service operated by VW subsidiary MOIA.
The announcement comes hot on the heels of Google’s autonomous driving spin-off Waymo, which launched a limited driverless taxi service in San Francisco last month.
The UK government is currently working on legislation to permit a limited form of vehicle autonomy on British roads.
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