VW will roll out self-driving electric shuttles in Qatar's capital

They'll be key to public transportation in the city.

If you visit Qatar in the next few years, you might find yourself riding in a driverless vehicle. Volkswagen and Qatar have struck a deal that will bring self-driving electric vehicles to the public transportation network in the capital city of Doha before the end of 2022. A total of 35 autonomous ID Buzz vans will carry up to four people each on semi-fixed routes in the Westbay area, while Scania buses will handle larger groups. VW's MOIA and Audi's AID will handle the software needed to run the service.

You may see these self-driving transporters on the road before 2022. Closed testing is poised to start in 2020, and trials could start in 2021. That is, of course, provided there are no setbcks.

There are already self-driving shuttle services in a number of cities. They aren't always on this scale, though, and you haven't seen a major automaker throw its weight into these projects in such a fashion. This could be a major opportunity for VW to show that its driver-free public transportation can work in real situations. Mind you, Qatar is also an ideal testing ground with well-maintained roads and an absence of snow. VW's solution might have a tougher time in other parts of the world, at least until the technology is ready to handle adverse weather.