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Volkswagen to develop autonomous buses, shuttles for Qatar by 2022

Volkswagen AG said Dec. 14 that it signed an initiative, dubbed Project Qatar Mobility, with Qatar Investment Authority, or QIA, to develop the country's urban mobility ecosystem.

The German automaker said it will work closely with QIA to lay out the physical and digital infrastructure for the project, including establishing the requisite legal framework, smart city infrastructure and transfer of knowledge. The project involves four brands of Volkswagen Group: Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, its ride-sharing service provider MOIA, truck unit Scania AB and Audi AG's AID-Autonomous Intelligent Driving unit.

Under the project, Volkswagen will develop electric buses and shuttles for the public transit system of the country's capital city Doha. It expects to begin closed testing of autonomous buses in 2020 and will run trials in 2021. The project is expected to go live by the end of 2022.

The test fleet will include 35 autonomous electric ID. Buzz vehicles that will ferry up to four passengers on semi-fixed routes in a geo-fenced area in Doha, while 10 Scania buses will shuttle larger groups. Volkswagen's MOIA and Audi's AID units will provide artificial intelligence-based software services to run the pilot.

Commenting on the agreement, Volkswagen Chairman and CEO Herbert Diess said, "Project Qatar Mobility will play a very important role in our strategy 'Together 2025+'."