For the first time ever a cutting-edge fleet of self-driving Level 4 electric shuttles will usher in a new era of urban mobility in a capital city in 2022: Earlier today in Doha, representatives of Volkswagen AG and the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) signed the ‘Project Qatar Mobility’.
The goal is to develop a ground-breaking autonomous transport project and transform the future of urban mobility to a sustainable and commercial deployment of AD shuttles and bus services – even beyond 2022. Fostering a cross-brand collaboration as blueprint for future Autonomous Driving (AD) solutions, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, Scania, MOIA and AID-Autonomous Intelligent Driving will play an important role in this project. During the largest sporting event in the world, Qatar will thus be the venue for the world’s first emission-free, electric and autonomous public transport system.
The agreement was signed by QIA CEO Mr Mansoor Al-Mahmoud and Herbert Diess, CEO of Volkswagen Group, at a ceremony in Doha today. The initiative, which is known as “Project Qatar Mobility”, underlines the mutual commitment to both smart technologies and green transport:
QIA and Volkswagen will work together to develop the required physical and digital infrastructure to seamlessly integrate a fleet of self-driving vehicles into Doha’s existing public transport network. 35 autonomous, electric ID. BUZZ AD from Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles will shuttle up to four passengers in Westbay area on semi-fixed routes, while ten high-tech Scania buses pick up larger groups. Volkswagen Group’s units AID and MOIA will provide the SDS knowledge and the app software to run the service. For the first time four Volkswagen Group brands work together on such a project of urban mobility.
The landmark project will create a holistic ecosystem for autonomous driving, including the creation of an appropriate legal framework, smart city infrastructure and transfer of knowledge, which can be used as a blueprint to transform urban mobility, both in Qatar and beyond. Closed testing of the shuttle vehicles and buses is expected to begin in 2020 and trials will start as early as 2021. The project will go live by the end of 2022, providing a technical showcase of future autonomous driving.
Herbert Diess, Chairman of Volkswagen, said: “Project Qatar Mobility will play a very important role in our Strategy ‘Together 2025+‘. Addressing the economic growth, social development, and environmental management challenges identified as part of our vision, and underlines our commitment to investing in next generation mobility. We will be experiencing real-world learnings and use the project as a stepping stone – for generations to come.”
Within the Volkswagen Group, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles (VWCV) is responsible for Autonomous Driving, Mobility as a Service (MaaS) and Transport as a Service (TaaS), due to the fact that first use cases are planned in the commercial sector. In future, VWCV will therefore be developing and producing corresponding Special Purpose Vehicles (SPV), such as robo-taxis and robo-vans. Outlining the aims of the project, Thomas Sedran, Chairman of the Board of VWCV: “Utilising the Bulli of tomorrow with the autonomous driving system currently being developed by AID, adding the intelligent ride pooling from MOIA and enabling it to be booked via an app – thus beginning the future of urban transport: CO2 neutral mobility combined with SDS technology for maximum efficiency and safety. In this way we are transporting an entire society, with all its requirements for clean, intelligent and sustainable mobility. VWCV is becoming an integrated mobility provider. Autonomous Driving is the key issue for the transformation of our core business.”
Henrik Henriksson, President and CEO of Scania says: “At Scania, our purpose is to drive the shift to sustainable transport. In the coming years, technological and infrastructural progress in electric and autonomous vehicles will be key enablers in that shift. With regards to people transport, a higher degree of sharing is also important and through advances in autonomous transport it will be simpler to introduce more flexibility in shared people transport. It is exciting to play a role in cutting edge projects like this one in Qatar.”
Commenting on the announcement, Mr Mansoor Al Mahmoud, CEO of QIA said: “For our cities to progress we need a new wave of innovation.AI-enabled, emission-free transportation technologies will help advance urban mobility, while diminishing congestion and improving energy efficiency.
We are proud that QIA has been able to partner with Volkswagen to ensure that Qatar is at the forefront of these new technologies. The development of a smart transport solution will help transform the future of urban mobility, both at home and around the world.”