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

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles (a separate VW brand) and Argo AI (an autonomous driving technology company) unveiled the ID Buzz AD (Autonomous Driving), the first version of the ID Buzz AD.
Both companies plan to commercially scale their jointly-developed, fully-electric self driving van over the next four year at the VW Night Event ahead of the 2021 IAA Mobility Event. The prototype, one the five first planned test vehicles, is being tested at Argos in Neufahrn. It will also be tested at Argos' nine-hectare closed track near Munich. This course tests for traffic conditions unique to European driving conditions.

Bryan Salesky, Argo AI's founder and CEO, stated that we have learned a lot from our five years of experience and the lessons learned from operations in complex U.S. cities. We are eager to test the self-driving ridesharing service in Munich and will soon be launching it with MOIA.

MOIA, a VW Group subsidiary that works with cities, local public transport providers and other mobility solutions providers, will commercially launch the ID Buzz in Hamburg as a part of a self driving ride-pool system. This ride-pool service aims to harness the power of autonomous systems in order to alleviate inner-city congestion.

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles demonstrated at the event how ride-pooling using a self-driving technology can be used to manage traffic flows.

Christian Senger, head for autonomous driving at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles said that a vehicle recognition system using six lidar, eleven radar, and fourteen cameras can capture more than any human driver from his seat.

The ID Buzz was first introduced by VW in 2017 as a concept vehicle. It is a futuristic version of the microbus and evokes memories as a camper van. The final product is a little different from the classic campers. It now features all the bells, whistles, and autonomy such as Argos proprietary sensor ArgoLidar which sits on the Buzzs roof. Argo AI claims that its lidar can detect objects at a distance greater than 1,300 feet (or 400 meters). Argo bought Princeton Lightwave lidar company four years ago. This acquisition allowed them to create this high-quality sensor with their patented Geiger mode technology. It can detect one photon, the smallest light particles, and capture, detect, and accurately represent objects with low reflectivity such as black vehicles.

According to VW, Argo AI's entire system is made up of software and sensors that provide 360-degree awareness of the environment. This allows it to predict pedestrians and other vehicles and to direct engine, brake, and steering systems to ensure that the vehicle drives safely and naturally like a skilled driver.

Argos technology will continue to be used to get people to where they need to go. Argo and Ford had announced in July that they would launch at least 1,000 self driving vehicles on Lyfts ride-hailing service over the next five year. This will be in cities such as Miami and Austin. The California Public Utilities Commission also issued Argo a pilot permit for Drivered AV so that it could begin testing on California public roads. Nearly two years after the VW Group invested $2.6 billion in Argo AI, Argo AI was also valued at $7.5 billion.