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‘Project Qatar Mobility’: Self-driving shuttles set to take Doha's local public transport to the next level in 2022

  • Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) and Volkswagen AG announce pioneering autonomous, electric transport initiative to transform urban mobility in Qatar
  • Prototypes of ID. BUZZ1 AD shuttles from Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and of Scania buses to operate on a self-driving system with zero emissions
  • MOIA ride hailing app is used to run the service, AID delivers self-driving system (SDS) knowledge
  • Autonomous Driving Roadmap pulled forward
Volkswagen CEO Dr. Herbert Diess and QIA CEO Mr. Mansoor Bin Ebrahim Al-Mahmoud

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.”

Volkswagen and QIA signing ceremony

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.”

About the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles brand:

‘We transport success’. As a stand-alone brand within the Volkswagen Group, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles (VWCV) is responsible for the development, construction and sales of light commercial vehicles. They include the Transporter, Caddy and Amarok ranges, which are produced in Hannover (D), Poznań (PL), Września (PL) and Pacheco (ARG). Our vehicles transport construction workers, families and adventurers, bread rolls, parcels and surfboards. Every day they help countless people all over the world to do a good job, they operate as mobile workshops and they bring paramedics and the police to wherever they are needed. In 2018, the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles brand shipped around 500,000 vehicles. Working at the company’s sites around the globe are more than 24,000 employees, including around 15,000 at the Hannover site.

Information about the Hannover site can be found at:

https://www.facebook.com/VolkswagenNutzfahrzeugeMeinWerk/

About the Scania brand:

Scania is a provider of sustainable transport solutions and is part of the project that is exploring opportunities for autonomous people transport in the context of mobility solutions in Doha, Qatar.

About MOIA:

MOIA, a subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group, develops mobility services and works in partnership with cities and local public transport operators. MOIA is currently developing and implementing a ridepooling system to avoid individual car traffic and to use the road infrastructure more efficiently. Cities are relieved of congestion, noise and emissions. MOIA started its on-demand bus service in the German cities of Hannover and Hamburg.

About AID-Autonomous Intelligent Driving:

AID is the Centre of Excellence for the development of level 4 autonomous driving in urban environments for the whole Volkswagen Group. We are bringing together the world’s top software, robotics, AI and automotive talents to build a self-driving system capable of improving life for millions of people. Headquartered in
Munich, the AID team has presently over 260 experts from 47 different nations. For us, the future isn’t about merely making vehicles more autonomous, it’s about making people more autonomous.

 

1) Concept car