Automobile

VW ID Buzz self-driving passenger and cargo vans on the way

Last year Volkswagen announced that it was also working on versions of the ID Buzz that drive themselves, with the goal of autonomously transporting either passengers or cargo. Our spies even sent us photos showing what was very clearly a sensor-laden self-driving Buzz prototype (later revealed at IAA 2021), confirming plans that the German automotive giant had already announced.

Now Automotive News is shedding more light on the matter by quoting the words of Carsten Intra, VW’s commercial vehicle boss, who explained that this self-driving Buzz

Will not be an evolution of the ID Buzz, but really a special purpose vehicle (SPV).

This means the driverless ID Buzz will be more its own vehicle, rather than simply another Buzz version, although we don’t know what this entails currently. In fact, it may not even look like the Buzz or even keep the name, since VW wants to clearly mark it out as being different (and autonomous).

The source article, citing information from Germany’s Automobilwoche, says we will first see the autonomous Buzz as a taxi in Hamburg in 2025, and that the goal is to expand the service to 50 major cities in Europe and North America by the end of the decade.

However, it seems that while VW is already advanced when it comes to testing its future robotaxi, the tech needed to make it happen isn’t quite there yet. Carsten Intra said that

We are still in the concept phase, it’s not ready yet. We’re going to need a big jump and not just bring the ID Buzz forward.

No mention is made of the autonomous cargo version of the Buzz, so we presume the passenger version takes priority, although both could debut at the same time, given that they rely on the same self-driving tech. They will rely on Argo AI’s autonomous driving know how, a US-based company that both VW and Ford are investing in.

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