Self-driving camper vans inch closer as VW tests autonomous Bullis
Electric camper vans offer some compelling advantages that we're looking forward to enjoying at campgrounds and backcountry sites, but what we're really yearning to see is a self-driving motorhome. Something about starting the vacation by kicking back in a recliner seat and reading a good book or tourism destination literature sounds so much more relaxing than inching along in infuriatingly slow holiday traffic toward the mountains or coast. Volkswagen is taking a step toward that idyllic future by testing autonomous tech in the upcoming ID. Buzz electric van, the spiritual successor to the world's favorite camper vans.
Volkswagen previously joined Ford in investing in autonomous driving software company Argo AI, and now it plans to supply ID. Buzz prototypes to be outfitted with Argo AI software. The two will then conduct real-world trials in Germany. Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles will be working with Argo, and the goal of the initial trials will be commercial in nature.
"The aim is to develop a ride-hailing and pooling concept similar to what MOIA offers today," explains Christian Senger, VW head of autonomous driving. "In the middle of this decade, our customers will then have the opportunity to be taken to their destination in selected cities with autonomous vehicles."
That's right, Volkswagen plans to have autonomous tech installed into production ID. Buzz models by 2025. The van will be the first VW vehicle to feature autonomous driving capability.
While VW's attention is focused on commercial ride-hailing use for now, the ID. Buzz is poised to become an instant favorite among camper converters, both commercial brands and DIY home builders. In fact, given the Buzz's lineage, we suspect it might help kick off an electric camper era, bringing electric drive tech more into the mainstream of the RV industry. Once VW adds self-driving capabilities, ID. Buzz-based Bulli camper vans and motorhomes could start to shape some of the autonomously driven road trips and tours of which we've been dreaming, even if they start on a limited basis – perhaps with something like self-driven tour-and-camp operations inside select national parks.
Volkswagen plans to debut the ID. Buzz in 2022. The van won't gain autonomous capabilities in time for its world premiere, but it will benefit from a spacious cabin and delightfully retro-modern looks opened up by its decentralized electric powertrain. We can't wait to see what the first camper converters do with that interior space.