Volkswagen and Qatar have struck a deal to bring self-driving electric vehicles to the capital city of Doha. A fleet of 35 Volkswagen ID Buzz vans will be available on select routes as shuttles. These vehicles are set to be on the street before the end of 2022.
Each ID Buzz will be capable of carrying up to four passengers and will travel on semi-fixed routes in the Westbay area. Supplementing these smaller vehicles will be ten Scania buses that will be used for handling larger groups of passengers.
Thirty-five Volkswagen ID Buzz self-driving electric shuttles will soon take to the streets of Qatar. (Photo: Volkswagen)
Creating a blueprint
The project includes more than simply agreeing to add these vehicles to the city’s public transportation network. It also includes the creation of a legal framework to allow their operation and helping with the development of a smart city infrastructure.
Rather than replacing existing vehicles, these new ID Buzz shuttles will be integrated into the existing public transportation network in Qatar. The systems developed and information gathered from this process will then be used to roll out similar self-driving networks throughout the country and beyond.
Closed testing of the shuttle service is set to begin next year with trials happening as early as 2021. These Level 4 electric shuttles will become a part of the world’s first emission-free, electric and autonomous public transport system.
WHY THIS MATTERS
While self-driving shuttle services exist in other cities, this collaboration between Volkswagen and Qatar is unique. It isn’t simply a matter of Volkswagen providing vehicles. The company will be working with Qatar to develop a network of self-driving vehicles and create a blueprint for other cities to do the same.