FIFA champions will be among the first to sample self-driving.
You may have heard certain media outlets report that self-driving cars are just around the corner. Yes, many automakers are currently testing autonomous vehicles in the US, but there have also been fatal accidents and the technology clearly is not ready to reach the hands of consumers. This hasn't stopped automakers from continuing to develop self-driving tech and we should start to see autonomous vehicles used in limited capacities (like in small cities) over the next several years.
Volkswagen has invested in its own self-driving subsidiary called Volkswagen Autonomy, which will work on developing Level 4 and Level 5 autonomous vehicles. These vehicles are still many years away from reaching consumer's hands but the VW Group has just announced a partnership with the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) to supply Level 4 electric shuttles in the city of Doha by 2022.
The agreement was signed in Doha by QIA CEO Mansoor Al-Mahmoud and Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess. The initiative is called "Project Qatar Mobility" and will include 35 autonomous I.D. BUZZ electric buses from Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and 10 high-tech buses from VW's Scania division to shuttle larger groups. Volkswagen's only current electric model in the US is the e-Golf but the company is working on delivering a new electric SUV which will be followed by a production version of the I.D. BUZZ.
"Project Qatar Mobility will play a very important role in our Strategy 'Together 2025+.' Addressing the economic growth, social development, and environmental management challenges identified as part of our vision, and underlines our commitment to investing in next-generation mobility. We will be experiencing real-world learnings and use the project as a stepping stone for generations to come," said Diess.
Closed testing of the shuttle vehicles and buses is expected to begin in 2020 with trials starting in 2021. VW says the project should go live by the end of 2022, which aligns perfectly with the start of the FIFA World Cup. The World Cup will be hosted by Qatar starting in November 2022, meaning the athletes could be among the first to be shuttled by these autonomous buses.