Volkswagen and Argo AI reveal first ID Buzz test vehicle for autonomous driving

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, an independent VW brand responsible for the development and sale of light commercial vehicles, and Argo AI, an autonomous driving technology company, unveiled the first version of the ID Buzz AD (Autonomous Driving) on ​​Sunday.

The two companies shared plans to test and commercially scale the jointly-developed, fully-electric autonomous pickup over the next four years at VW’s evening event prior to the event. IAA 2021 mobility event in Munich. Testing of the prototype, one of the first five planned test vehicles, has already started and will continue at Argo’s development center in Neufahrn, near Munich, as well as in Argo’s nine-hectare enclosed field near Munich airport. , which tests for a variety of traffic situations unique to European driving conditions and the Argo test track in the United States.

“Building on our five years of developing and learning from our operations in large and complex US cities, we are excited to soon begin testing on the streets of Munich in preparation for the launch of the commercial ride-sharing service. autonomous with MOIA, “said Bryan Salesky, founder and CEO of Argo AI, in a statement.

In 2025, MOIA, a VW Group subsidiary that works with cities and local public transport providers on mobility solutions, will commercially launch the ID Buzz in Hamburg as part of an autonomous group travel system. is designed to harness the power of autonomous systems to alleviate downtown congestion.

At the event, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, which developed a separate business unit dedicated to autonomous driving and acquired a stake in Argo AI, demonstrated how combining travel through an autonomous driving system can help manage traffic flows.

“An environmental recognition system of six lidar, eleven radars and fourteen cameras, distributed throughout the vehicle, can capture much more than any human driver can from his seat,” said Christian Senger, head of autonomous driving, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles. , in the event.

VW first revealed the ID Buzz as a concept vehicle in 2017, a futuristic take on the classic minibus that invokes nostalgia for a family motorhome. The final product looks a bit different than the iconic campers, now it contains all the bells and whistles of autonomy, like Argo’s patented Argo Lidar sensor, which sits atop the roof of the Buzz. According to Argo AI, its lidar can detect objects from a distance of more than 1,300 feet or 400 meters. Four years ago, Argo acquired the lidar company Princeton Lightwave, which has allowed it to produce this new high-precision sensor with patented Geiger mode technology that can detect a single photon, the smallest of light particles, so that it can capture , accurately detect and represent objects with low reflectivity such as black vehicles.

The entire Argo AI system consists of sensors and software that give the computer 360-degree awareness of the vehicle’s environment, allowing it to “predict the actions of pedestrians, bicyclists, and vehicles, and direct the engine, braking and steering systems to keep the vehicle moving. ” safely and naturally, like an experienced driver, ”according to a VW statement.

This is not the first time that Argo’s technology will be used to transport humans where they need to go. In July, Argo and Ford announced plans to launch at least 1,000 autonomous vehicles on Lyft’s ride-sharing network over the next five years in cities like Miami and Austin. In the same month, the California Public Utilities Commission issued Argo a Drivered AV pilot permit so that it could begin testing on public roads in California. Argo AI also recently received a $ 7.5 billion valuation, nearly two years after the VW Group finalized its $ 2.6 billion investment in the company.

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