Volkswagen and the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) have signed an agreement to introduce self-driving electric shuttles in Doha, Qatar.

Named ‘Project Qatar Mobility’, the project aims to improve public transport in the city. Under the agreement, a fleet of self-driving Level 4 electric shuttles will operate in Doha from 2022.

The agreement will introduce prototypes of Volkswagen’s ID BUZZ AD shuttles and Scania buses. The shuttles will operate on a self-driving system (SDS) with zero emissions.

ID BUZZ AD vehicles can accommodate four passengers and will operate in the Westbay area on semi-fixed routes. The Scania buses will be used to accommodate bigger groups.

The SDS and app software used in the shuttles will be provided by Volkswagen Group’s Autonomous Intelligent Driving (AID) and MOIA units.

This project is expected to generate an all-round ecosystem for self-driving vehicles, which includes a legal framework, smart city infrastructure and knowledge transfer.

The city expects the closed testing of the vehicles to commence next year, with trials aimed for 2021.

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles (VWCV) will oversee autonomous driving, Mobility as a Service (MaaS) and Transport as a Service (TaaS).

Volkswagen chairman Herbert Diess 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 underlining 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.”

QIA CEO Mansoor Al 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.”