Volkswagen in 2025 will launch a self-driving version of its upcoming electric van based on the ID.Buzz concept first shown in 2017, the automaker said last week.
Together with the announcement, the automaker presented a teaser sketch that shows the self-driving van and likely hints at the final design for the production version of the ID.Buzz. You'll notice the vehicle in the teaser sketch features more conventional lights at both ends. It also features multiple sensors around the body, including on the roof, though these elements will be limited to self-driving versions of the van.
The production version of the ID.Buzz, which is billed as the spiritual successor to the iconic Microbus, will debut in 2022. However, it won't reach local showrooms until 2023, Volkswagen of America CEO Scott Keogh revealed in January.
VW has hinted at both passenger and cargo versions of the modern Microbus.
Volkswagen ID Buzz
The self-driving version due in 2025 will be used for an automated taxi service in city driving, VW said. The automaker's commercial vehicle division will be responsible for all commercial services involving self-driving vehicles.
The self-driving system to be used by VW for its automated taxi service is being developed by Argo AI and testing is already taking place on public roads in Germany. Argo AI is the U.S.-based self-driving technology startup which has equal investments from Volkswagen Group and Ford. Ford is expected to offer its first commercial service using Argo AI's self-driving system in 2022.
Separately, VW Group is developing its own self-driving system via its new Car.Software Organization for privately owned cars. It will be available to all VW Group brands but timing is uncertain.
The separate self-driving systems being developed by Argo AI and VW Group will both rank at up to Level 4 on the SAE scale of self-driving capability. Level 4 cars can operate fully on their own, though only in set conditions, the main one typically being a geofenced area. The highest rating on the SAE scale is a Level 5 car. Such a car would be able to function on its own in all of the same conditions expected of a human.