Volkswagen is leveraging its partnership with Pittsburgh-based Argo AI to build a self-contained version of the ID.Buzz, a traditionally designed electric van that will debut in years to come. Unveiled at the 2021 Munich auto show this week, the prototype is equipped with an armada of cameras, as well as lidar and radar sensors.
It doesn’t take a discerning eye to say that the ID.Buzz AD is stand-alone. Its hardware suite is clearly visible: Argo AI’s proprietary lidar is notably mounted on the roof of the van, where it is perfectly positioned to locate the road ahead. Bryan Salesky, founder and CEO of Argo AI, said lidar can detect objects up to 1,300 feet away.
Building a van that can operate in a controlled environment is relatively easy. Deploying it in real conditions, where it will encounter constructions, dogs and pedestrians, is much more difficult. Salesky warned that improvements in autonomous technology will be incremental – there won’t be a big boom – but he stressed that infrastructure upgrades will play an important role in helping driverless cars reduce traffic in cities. big cities.
With the right technology, self-driving cars like the ID.Buzz AD could be part of a large network of vehicles. They will be able to walk all the streets in a given city, not just the main avenues, to distribute traffic more evenly. “It can add 30 seconds to everyone’s commute to work, but we’ll all get there faster,” Salesky explained. He called the concept “load balancing” and pointed out that it can make roads run smoother during rush hour.
Volkswagen and Argo AI aren’t the only companies developing stand-alone technology; the list of rivals they must fight is relatively long and is growing steadily. Handling and power won’t matter in this new arena, and drawing an eye-catching design while incorporating self-driving gear is easier said than done, so how will Volkswagen stand out from the crowd? its competitors? TechToSee went straight to the source: company boss Herbert Diess.
Citing the Audi GrandSphere concept as an example, he said the interior will become an extremely important criterion when autonomous vehicles start to appear in our landscape. Comfort and technology are currently helping to define human-driven cars, and they will become even more crucial when commuters decide which brand of car they want to be driven in for work. “Some people will spend more time in their car than in their life. room; we should make it enjoyable, ”he said. Convenience (like the interface used to summon a shuttle) will also be a determining factor.
We are not there yet; self-driving cars still have several obstacles to overcome before picking up your children from school. Volkswagen will initially build five Argo AI vans to put the technology to the test on a newly opened test track near Munich Airport and on public roads. Once the testing phase is complete, the company will begin deploying autonomous vans in Hamburg, Germany. The start of the program is tentatively scheduled for 2025.