Tech

Volkswagen revives the iconic minibus


Five years after Volkswagen first revealed its concept for an electric version of the iconic microbus, we got our first glimpse of the car.

The ID Buzz is equipped with a high-tech array of sensors and computational intelligence for its new role as a self-driving test vehicle.

The company says the self-driving ID Buzz will serve as a platform for the automaker’s large-scale commercial ride-sharing operations that it plans to launch in Germany in 2025.

Currently, the company plans to deploy ID Buzz on public test roads in Munich, as well as on a private track near the city’s airport.

The truck made its public debut at the Mobility event IAA 2021 In Munich, which also saw new concepts from Mercedes and BMW.

The trucks use hardware and software developed by Argo AI, a Pittsburgh-based start-up backed by Ford and Volkswagen.

Automakers formed a global alliance in 2019 to co-develop electric and self-driving cars as a way to spread the costs of what is expected to be an expensive and cumbersome process.

As part of this deal, the company invested $2.6 billion in Argo AI, which at the time saw its value rise to $7 billion.

Argo AI opened an office in Munich and absorbed the Volkswagen self-driving team that was based there.

Argo AI is currently using modified Ford vehicles for testing in the US, and has yet to reveal its own purpose-built self-driving vehicles like some of its competitors.

ID Buzz includes Argo AI autonomous driving hardware and software. Including lidar sensors with a range of 400 meters that were developed in-house.

Also Read: Rimac Acquires Bugatti From Volkswagen

Volkswagen revives the iconic minibus

The company said it plans to put the trucks into service as a ride-sharing fleet under its subsidiary Moia. which since 2017 has been operating a fleet of electric vehicles as part of the Hamburg mass-riding service.

The company has served 3 million customers to date. These customers provided huge amounts of comments. which are being used as the company transitions to a fully self-driving fleet by 2025.

Despite the initial high hopes. Autonomous vehicles are still far from being able to drive anywhere under any circumstances.

The industry has been consolidating rapidly over the past year, as many companies have been acquired or merged with others.

This was done to keep companies facing long lead times and high operational costs with little expectation of revenue generation in the near term.

Self-driving taxis are seen as more than most companies expect. Moreover, the company says it remains optimistic about its ability to reach the target date.

Argo AI has been testing its fourth generation vehicles for the past few years. It also plans to launch a ride-sharing service in the US with Lyft by the end of the year.

Read also: Volkswagen offers 4G connectivity option in the car

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