When it comes to the possibilities in the future of autonomous driving, the I.D. VIZZION concept vehicle from Volkswagen, unveiled in March at the Geneva Motor Show, is a good place to start. Built off the MEB electric vehicle platform, the I.D. VIZZION combines voice- and gesture-control technology and artificial intelligence software. The striking sedan package demonstrates what transportation could be like in the year 2030.
What’s new about the I.D. VIZZION?
The I.D. VIZZION is the first Volkswagen brand vehicle ever built without a steering wheel or pedals—everywhere the concept car could go, it would do so autonomously. The “digital chauffeur” wouldn’t just navigate and steer, but also recognize occupants and automatically adapt aspects of the interior such as climate control and music playlists to their preferences. It could even communicate with the outside world by projecting the image of crosswalk lines in front of the I.D. VIZZION to let pedestrians know they can safely pass in front.
As with the first three I.D. electric vehicle concepts—the I.D., I.D. CROZZ and I.D. BUZZ—the I.D. VIZZION previews a model slated to enter production by 2022. But the I.D. VIZZION concept in Geneva highlights Volkswagen’s vision for a time further in the future, when so-called Level 5 full-autonomous driving becomes possible.
A 2030 worldview
As with other MEB-based models, the I.D. VIZZION has all-wheel drive provided by electric motors on the front and rear axle, producing a total of 302 hp. Its 111-kWh battery pack should provide a range of around 300 miles. It’s equipped with a phalanx of sensors—laser scanners, ultrasonic sensors, radar sensors front and rear, and cameras with a 360-degree view of the area surrounding the vehicle.
To highlight its 2030 worldview, the I.D. VIZZION concept was styled with a new, sleek evolution of the VW electric vehicle DNA. Designers aimed to eliminate seams and obstructions for passengers, from doors that have no B-pillar to the window glass that lies flush to the bodywork. Meanwhile, a series of LED light strips surrounds the car, from the front grille through the sides and door handles to the rear fenders; the lights pulse when the vehicle recognizes one of its passengers through face recognition technology. The headlights are made from 8,000 HD Matrix LEDs that can be individually controlled and used to project displays in front of the car.
Open the doors and there’s the sculpted, wheel-and-instrument-panel-free dash; the only protrusions are a pair of footrests for the front passengers. The I.D. VIZZION is designed to be controlled by voice and hand gestures and is integrated with augmented reality glasses to display vehicle data. For those who still want a true sense of control, there are two knobs on the center panel, mainly for turning the stereo up and down.
While it may seem like a sci-fi idea of the future, nearly all of the technology in the I.D. VIZZION either exists already or is under development by VW and its suppliers. Given the rate of technological progress in the past few years, autonomous vehicles could evolve fast enough to turn today’s science fiction into science fact.
*Concept vehicle shown. Not available for sale. Specifications may change.