VW Promises AI-Powered Self-Driving Electric Minivan for Urban Transportation

By: | May 13th, 2021

Image by renehesse from Pixabay

VW is promising a self-driven electric ID.Buzz microbus to be available in the market by 2025, offering a next-level solution for urban transportation and delivery services. The company is already testing the car and its AI vigorously to ensure that it will be safe to use in four years from now, and of course, to optimize and develop the system in accordance with the requirements.

The ID.Buzz is a retro-styled van that was announced last year and is expected to be made available in 2022 for Europe, in 2023 for the U.S., and in 2024 for the rest of the world. So, the particular version that’s expected a year after that is a different one, not focusing on the upscale experience of the regular model, but on utility and pioneering self-driving technology. For this, VW has partnered with Argo, who is supplying the AI system that takes over the driving.

Argo’s system is paired with Lidars, cameras, and range detectors, and can “see” objects, moving vehicles, pedestrians, and anything that has significance for the driving process. The AI will receive the high-resolution images that are reconstructed from this input and will evaluate its movement inside complex environments.

The self-driving ID.Buzz will reach level-4 autonomous driving, which is one step lower than full automation. What this means is that it’ll be capable of performing all driving tasks under specific circumstances. What these circumstances are and how often they will apply remains to be seen, but for starters, a driver must be present for safety and monitoring.

At this point, it is worth noting that Baidu has progressed well and a couple of weeks ago launched what VW promises for 2025, a robotaxi service in China. Another vendor, Navya, is already selling level-4 shuttles in the U.S., promising safe driving at speeds of up to 55 mph. That said, VW isn’t ushering a new era here, but merely (late) joining the party. Still, it’s good to see them take that step, and it’ll be good for competition no doubt.


Bill Toulas

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