Europe's first autonomous ridepooling project is taking shape. Partners Volkswagen Nutzfahrzeuge, MOIA and Argo AI have now unveiled the plans for it, as well as the prototype of the ID. BUZZ AD. The goal is to develop an autonomous, internationally scalable ridepooling system in Hamburg by 2025.
The Hamburg pilot project for autonomous driving is a cooperative effort: In a joint effort, the three companies Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, MOIA and Argo AI are developing all the necessary components and processes to make driverless ridepooling a reality in 2025.
The Volkswagen Group's first autonomous vehicle, the ID. BUZZ AD, is being developed by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and Argo AI, a global leader in autonomous driving technology. Argo AI is developing the self-driving system, the heart of the autonomous vehicle, consisting of hardware and software that provides a 360-degree view around the vehicle.
As a mobility service provider, MOIA is the missing piece in turning an autonomous vehicle and self-driving system into an autonomous ridepooling service.
To prepare for the safe deployment of the autonomous driving vehicles, Argo AI will survey the roadways of the initial test area as a first step starting in the fourth quarter of 2021. For this purpose, the Argo test vehicles will be driven through the city in manual mode to record the road infrastructure and local traffic regulations in the test area. The location and spacing of traffic signals, bike lanes street signs and other traffic signs will be recorded during this process. Two specially trained safety drivers will control the vehicles during mapping and subsequent autonomous driving tests on Hamburg's roads.
Once the initial testing and development phase is complete, VWN, MOIA and Argo will conduct test drives with and without passengers prior to public operation in 2025 to optimally test the operational procedures and user experience of an automated pooling service. This includes testing the tasks in the vehicle that are currently performed by the driver: Is the right person boarding, is the number of people correct, is everyone sitting in their seats, is the luggage well stowed, and who is the contact person for customers with questions? MOIA is developing the technology needed to map these tasks.
The initial test area is east of the Alster. It includes parts of Winterhude, Uhlenhorst and Hohenfelde and is to be expanded step by step. The test area was selected on the basis of various criteria. The main criterion was to develop autonomous ridepooling under real conditions where it can have the greatest impact. The districts of Winterhude, Uhlenhorst and Hohenfelde offer ideal conditions for this: They have complex road conditions with many traffic challenges. At the same time, autonomous ridepooling can have a traffic-relieving effect here as a supplement to local public transport. In addition, the area is close to the MOIA depot in Wandsbek, where the AD test fleet will be stationed.
Thanks to extensive testing experience in several cities, Argo has one of the largest test operations for autonomous driving, which now spans eight complex urban areas. Argo will apply lessons learned from nearly five years of testing in the U.S. to many of the road types and scenarios prevalent in Europe. Argo continuously tests its self-driving system through development testing in the lab, virtual testing in a simulated environment and on two closed test tracks, including a facility in Munich, Germany.
The autonomous vehicles, which will be based on the future ID. BUZZ use a combination of lidar, radar and camera systems. This ensures reliable detection of the environment both in the immediate vicinity of the vehicle and at a further distance of 400 meters.