Concept Cars

Volkswagen's AI-powered I.D. Vizzion doesn't need a steering wheel

The newest member of VW's I.D. family of electric concepts ditches the steering wheel, pedals and dashboard in favor of artificial intelligence and Microsoft HoloLens augmented reality.

Volkswagen

Meet the I.D. Vizzion. The concept sedan is appearing at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show and is the fourth member of Volkswagen's I.D. family of electric concept cars, joining the I.D. Concept hatchback, I.D. Buzz microbus and I.D. Crozz SUV concepts. (VW seems to be sticking with a double-Z naming theme for the most part.)

The Vizzion is a sedan concept and, like the rest of the fam, it's a fully electric, all-wheel drive vehicle. However, unlike the other I.D. concepts, this one doesn't have a steering wheel or pedals.

Level 5 autonomy: No steering wheel required

The I.D. Vizzion stands apart from the rest of the I.D. family of concepts as a demonstration of Level 5 autonomy. The difference between Level 5 and the Level 4 concepts prior is that the Vizzion has ditched conventional controls altogether. So, there's no steering wheel, no pedals, no traditional dashboard or dedicated driver's seat; VW envisions that passengers will operate the vehicle solely with voice and gesture control.

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The I.D. Vizzion concept uses a variety of sensors to detect the world around it and AI to navigate itself to destinations.

Volkswagen

The concept uses a combination of sonar, radar, cameras and laser scanners to sense and interpret the world around it and the road ahead, and artificial intelligence (AI) to handle its own navigation and obstacle avoidance. And it's capable of learning as it goes. Passengers just hop in, tell it where to go and then enjoy the ride.

Artificial intelligence in the cabin

Artificial intelligence even flavors the "hop in" part of the I.D. Vizzion concept. The sedan uses biometric facial scanning to recognize its passengers and automatically greet them with LED lights and motorized opening suicide doors upon approach. (If you have a twin, an electronic key can also be used to tell passengers apart.)

Once inside and seated, the AI will automatically adjust cabin settings based on preferences it's learned from those occupants and saved to the cloud.

While riding along in the Vizzion, passengers can interact with the car via gestures, Microsoft HoloLens augmented reality (AR) and voice commands. The car's AI will communicate back with info such as estimated arrival time and suggestions for stops along the way. VW envisions the vehicle being interconnected with all of its passengers' digital devices, including smartphones and fitness trackers, and using data from those devices to better take care of the passengers' needs.

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Lacking a steering wheel or even a conventional dashboard, passengers interact with the concept with voice commands or augmented reality interfaces.

Volkswagen

Since there is no "driver's seat" in the Vizzion, the cabin is reconfigurable for different travel modes for relaxing, working or interacting with other passengers. Here, the HoloLens integration comes back into play with virtual projections that the passengers can interact with in AR: Business, Navigation, Entertainment, Communication and a Learning mode with games and apps for children onboard.

Electric all-wheel drive

Like the rest of the I.D. family, the new concept is based on VW's MEB electric vehicle platform and features an all-electric, all-wheel drive powertrain. The concept packs a pair of electric motors: a 101 horsepower coaxial drive unit turning the front wheels -- massive 24-inch aerodynamically designed rollers -- and a compact 201 horsepower motor powering the rear axle. Together, the e-AWD system makes a total of 302 horsepower.

Energy is stored in a 111kWh lithium-ion battery pack in the vehicle floor, which is expected to power the Vizzion for up to 413 miles of range on the European cycle per charge. The concept supports inductive wireless charging, as well as plug-in charging via Combined Charging System (CCS), fast-charging stations or conventional electrical sockets. Charging times for each of these methods has not yet been announced.

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Like the other I.D. concepts, Vizzion is fully electric. Its two e-motors make a combined 302 horsepower.

Volkswagen

Building the Vizzion from the ground up on VW's MEB electric platform has allowed VW to rethink the sedan with a long 122-inch wheelbase and very short overhangs at either end. Tucking the battery in the floor and using coaxial motors frees up space in the cabin for activities, makes room for a 20-cubic foot trunk and keeps the center of mass nice and low.

Plus, VW has outfitted the I.D. Vizzion with all sorts of neat concept car tricks including HD Matrix lights with 8,000 light pixels and the ability to project symbols and displays onto the road ahead of the car to communicate with pedestrians, for example. Out back, the large rear window is also a massive OLED display that works as a gigantic third brake light.

Volkswagen has stated again and again that it plans to bring the I.D. family of electric vehicles to production starting in 2020, but paints a more conservative 2030 estimate for the Level 5 autonomous driving tech showcased here in the I.D. Vizzion.

Be sure to check out the rest of our coverage of the 2018 Geneva Auto Show for even more exotics, concepts and debuts.