Starting in 2020, Volkswagen will be launching the I.D. Family, a range of newly-developed electric vehicles with long driving ranges and visionary design that will come to market in quick succession. Three I.D. models have already been presented as concept cars: the compact I.D. and the I.D. CROZZ SUV, debuting as production models in 2020, and the I.D. BUZZ microbus, which becomes reality in 2022. At the Geneva International Motor Show, Volkswagen will present the newest member of the I.D. Family: the I.D. VIZZION sedan. The concept car drives autonomously, is operated by voice and gesture control, and thanks to artificial intelligence, will be capable of learning.
In a vision of what may be possible by the year 2030, the I.D. VIZZION’s ‘digital chauffeur’ assumes control of the vehicle—without a steering wheel or visible controls. The concept car drives, steers and navigates autonomously in traffic, enabling passengers to sit back and enjoy the ride. A virtual ‘host’ knows the personal preferences of the vehicle guests and it adapts to each of them individually. Interaction with the I.D. VIZZION is possible via augmented reality and newly designed mixed reality eyewear—the HOLOLENSTM developed by Microsoft®. Expected to come to production in 2022, the I.D. VIZZION will first be available with conventional controls.
The I.D. VIZZION concept car is one of the first cars to have the potential of artificial intelligence incorporated into its concept. Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to programs capable of self-learning by using algorithms to recognize, evaluate and interpret patterns. Over time, these systems continue to learn more, which enables them to react to new situations.
Currently, developers define comprehensive program code that describes all aspects of system behavior. For example, Volkswagen’s Lane Assist feature uses a conventional, model-based program which precisely describes mathematical parameters for the visual recognition of lane markings. In the programing, the developers must also incorporate all sorts of deviations—such as missing or interrupted lane markings—so that they can handle all conceivable scenarios. The optical information supplied by the front camera is then compared with the mathematical description of lane markings, and if they agree Lane Assist is activated and ready to intervene.
Programs are now being trained, however, to learn very complex parameters. In this training process, they learn to deduce unknown facts based on machine learning. At Volkswagen, machine learning is being used in determining the vehicle environment by the use of peripheral cameras. For example, the cameras must recognize whether they are ‘seeing’ a truck, passenger car, pedestrian or bicycle rider. To achieve this, developers feed an image recognition algorithm with thousands of pieces of training data – images of trucks, passenger cars, pedestrians and bicycle riders. It trains with images to distinguish between the different road users. This enables the implementation of new functions.
Artificial intelligence requires a program that can draw its own conclusions autonomously, which allows it to make its own decisions. The automobiles of tomorrow will operate with far fewer control elements, and with controls that can be operated fully intuitively. Assistants like the system integrated in the I.D. VIZZION adapt more perfectly to its users from day to day. The system recognizes their needs and tastes—such as seat and air conditioning settings and their favorite playlists—and activates them autonomously as a function of the context and situation. Hardware and software will be optimally synchronized by the Volkswagen car’s artificial intelligence. For autonomous driving, this also includes the essential laser and radar sensors, cameras and electronic control units. They independently share the data and derive the right driving manoeuvre based on their own decisions.
Fully Autonomous Driving
With the I.D. VIZZION, Volkswagen is showing the maximum extension stage of automated driving. The levels of automation are subdivided into five levels. From Level 4, the multiple redundantly designed technologies for automated driving are so intelligent that a driver is no longer needed. Nonetheless, cars operating at Level 4 still have a steering wheel and cockpit inside, and the user can choose to drive it conventionally as well.
The I.D. VIZZION is designed for Level 5, so it drives exclusively as a fully autonomous vehicle. Consequently, there is no longer any need for a driver’s seat, steering wheel, dash panel or foot pedals. The I.D. VIZZION detects its environment via inter-connected laser scanners, ultrasonic sensors, radar sensors for objects in the near-zone and radar sensors for long distances, front and rear cameras and side area view cameras. Traffic data is also continually obtained via the cloud and is compared with the data in the I.D. VIZZION. Future networking of vehicles with one another will also enable the Volkswagen car to utilize the swarm intelligence of the immediate surroundings and the larger environment (Car-2-Car and Car-2-X). In addition, the I.D. VIZZION integrates high-resolution digital maps into navigation.
Electric all-wheel drive
The drive system components of the MEB architecture—two motors, two transmissions, the electronics that link everything together and the high-voltage battery—are optimally incorporated into the I.D. VIZZION package.
The lithium-ion battery has an energy density of 111 kWh and is housed in the vehicle floor. This creates more interior space, lowers the center of gravity and ensures ideal weight distribution. The same applies to the two electric motors on the front and rear axles. The motor in front is a 101-hp coaxial drive, and a compact 201-hp motor is used at the rear. They develop a total system power of 302 hp and drive their respective axles directly. Intelligent drive control ensures optimal handling properties in every situation.
The I.D. VIZZION concept has an anticipated range of up to 413 miles on the European cycle. The power electronics are a crucial link for controlling the flow of high-voltage energy between the motors and the battery. The power electronics convert the direct current (DC) stored in the battery into alternating current (AC). The ideal method for charging the battery is over an inductive interface. But conventional charging via a plug is also possible with the Combined Charging System (CCS), charging stations or conventional electrical sockets.
The proportions of the I.D. VIZZION differentiate it from comparable production vehicles in the premium class. The wheelbase (122.0 inches) and roof are extremely long, while the front and rear overhangs are short. This creates more space than in today’s premium sedan models. In addition, the I.D. VIZZION sets new standards with its refined aerodynamics. The concept car is 203.3 inches long, 76.7 inches wide, and 59.3 inches tall.
From the front, the I.D. VIZZION creates a dynamic look with its front fascia, which is extremely low in the middle, and its fenders that rise sharply to the sides. Light also dominates the front-end design, with a white, illuminated VW badge, which develops into a white, animated light axis. As soon as the I.D. VIZZION recognizes one of its passengers via electronic key or a facial scan, this light axis flows over the side of the body and the white-illuminated door handles and into the rear body.
The lighting concept is designed to be interactive. For example, active lighting elements in the front end adapt to the environment of the vehicle according to the driving situation. The I.D. VIZZION uses HD Matrix lights—a first for Volkswagen. These intelligent dipped beam and main beam headlights operate with 8,000 light pixels. In the future, these dots of light can be used to project symbols and displays in front of the car. These could be the virtual ‘zebra stripes’ of a pedestrian crossing, signaling to pedestrians that the I.D. VIZZION has recognized them, and is stopping to let them cross the road safely.
In profile, the I.D. VIZZION is simple, yet elegant. The coupe-like roofline of the concept car extends past the wheelarches in the rear, creating the silhouette of a GT. The side sections are eye-catching with their seamlessly designed surfaces. Even the windows are completely flush with the body panels, making the greenhouse visually merge more with the shoulder and side sections of the body. Suicide doors dominate the space between the aerodynamically designed 24-inch wheels. They open electrically in opposite directions at up to a 0-degree angle. This, and the lack of B-pillars, enables exceptionally easy egress.
The rear, with its sharp trailing edge, has ideal aerodynamic properties. Instead of a conventional trunk lid, an electrically actuated rear hatch swings upward, giving access to a 20.0 cubic-foot trunk. Like the rest of the concept car, the rear also exhibits clean and expressive styling. The white light axis is present at the rear too. This low-profile strip of LEDs wraps into the sides of the car and the rear fenders, emphasizing the width of the I.D. VIZZION. Immediately above, a red LED strip provides tail and brake light functions. The rear window doubles as a gigantic OLED display, allowing it to become a third brake light. As braking intensifies, the brake light enlarges interactively from bottom to top.
The I.D. VIZZION has an interior which enables a new dimension in travel. Since the I.D. VIZZION is conceived for fully autonomously driving, there is no need for a traditional driver’s seat with cockpit. Therefore, the space was designed create a lounge-like atmosphere. Four ergonomically balanced seats form the center of this world. Footrests invite guests to relax, and a bright atmosphere is created with large side windows and a continuous panoramic sunroof that runs from front to rear. To ensure that the transparency of the space is not too great, the glass surfaces can be darkened electronically. At maximum darkening, the privacy glass is nearly opaque.
The car has no dash panel, as the concept vehicle is primarily operated by gesture and voice control. In addition, all guests aboard the I.D. VIZZION can, if they wish, use a HOLOLENS which projects a virtual interface into the real space by augmented reality. However, there are still two rotary/pushbutton controls on the center console of the I.D. VIZZION (one front, one rear) to enable the intuitive manual control of functions such as entertainment volume control. These controls can also fully stop the concept car.
The virtual host recognizes its occupants by biometric facial recognition or electronic device, such as a smartphone, and is able to call up settings from the cloud via the Volkswagen ID, automatically adjusting the settings for individual occupants. The profile for the Volkswagen ID can control parameters such as seating, lighting, climate control, infotainment (including streaming services) and scents.
In addition, the virtual assistant reacts predictively to a wide variety of events and relevant points of interest. For example, if the car is approaching a traffic jam that cannot be avoided, the interactive assistant automatically communicates the new arrival time for the given destination. If there is a cafe along the route, which one of the guests would like to make use of, the assistant asks whether it should drive to the cafe or perhaps order a coffee to go and pay for it. The car can also be interconnected with all conceivable digital devices, including fitness trackers. Via these and/or the HOLOLENS, the I.D. VIZZION tracks the vital parameters of its passengers. For example, if it notices that someone is too hot, it adjusts the temperature downward for the area of that passenger via indirect ventilation of the four-zone automatic air conditioner.
Three different travel modes can be activated on-board via the personal assistant: Relax, Active, and Family. In the Active mode, for example, the passenger can sit as usual, work, communicate, play and call up information on the drive. As soon as a guest activates Relax mode, a footrest extends out, relaxing music is played, and the ambient lighting switches to a warm color. In addition, various scenarios can be called up via the HOLOLENS. They include the digital Business, Navigation, Entertain, Communication, and—especially for any children on-board—Learning modes. The projections that are customized for each mode are shown in the user’s visual field as augmented reality via the HOLOLENS. The Business mode, for example, makes it possible to participate in meetings by video chat or easily process e-mails and presentations. In Learning mode, children can call up games and learning apps.
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