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QIA, VW in autonomous e-shuttle deal

QIA, VW in autonomous e-shuttle deal

Satyendra Pathak
Doha
Prime Minister and Minister of Interior HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al Thani witnessed the signing of ‘Project Qatar Mobility’ agreement between Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) and Volkswagen in Doha on Saturday.
The agreement, which was signed on the sidelines of Doha Forum 2019, is aimed at introducing for the first time ever a cutting-edge fleet of self-driving level 4 electric shuttles and buses to operate on self-driving system (SDS) with zero emissions during the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Doha.
Qatar will thus be the venue for the world’s first emission-free, electric and autonomous public transport system.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs HE Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al Thani, Minister of Transport and Communications HE Jassim bin Saif al Sulaiti and representatives of Volkswagen and the Qatar Investment Authority were also present on the occasion.
The agreement was signed by QIA CEO Mansoor al Mahmoud and Volkswagen Group Chairman Herbert Diess.
According to the agreement, as many as 35 autonomous, electric ID. BUZZ AD from Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles will shuttle up to four passengers in West Bay area on semi-fixed routes, while ten high-tech Scania buses will pick up larger groups.
Fostering a cross-brand collaboration as a 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.
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 as per the agreement.
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.
The initiative, which is known as ‘Project Qatar Mobility’, underlines the mutual commitment to both smart technologies and green transport.
Under the agreement, 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.
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.
Commenting on the agreement, Mahmoud 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.”
Diess said, “Project Qatar Mobility will play a very important role in our Strategy ‘Together 2025+’ in 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.”
Scania President and CEO Henrik Henriksson said, “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.”

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