VW Microbus 02.2.18

VW Resurrects Iconic Microbus with Facial Recognition

When the hippies of the 1960s embarked on a journey to change the world, their vehicle of choice was Volkswagen’s Microbus van. Today, VW is resurrecting the Microbus in a new bid to overturn the status quo, using Nvidia AI technology to reshape the automobile. Together, VW and Nvidia plan to develop the I.D. Buzz, a new version of the Microbus that will pave the way for intelligent vehicles equipped with AI capabilities including voice and facial recognition technology.

At the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January, the two companies outlined their vision for the cars of the future. These cars will focus on using AI technology not just for self-driving, but also to improve safety and create new cockpit experiences.

The I.D. Buzz represents the first example of such a vehicle, a concept car that combines electric vehicle technology, with autonomous driving capabilities and AI innovations to enhance the passenger experience.

“Artificial intelligence is revolutionizing the car,” said Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess, in a press-release quote.

“Autonomous driving, zero-emission mobility, and digital networking are virtually impossible without advances in AI and deep learning. Combining the imagination of Volkswagen with NVIDIA, the leader in AI technology, enables us to take a big step into the future.”

To develop the I.D. Buzz and future vehicles, the automaker and the chip supplier are using Nvidia’s Drive IX Intelligent Experience platform. The platform is a software development kit that can be used to implement a range of AI-enabled features, such as voice and facial recognition.

For example, Drive IX could allow VW to devise a face recognition system for automatically unlocking and opening the vehicle. It could also allow the development of natural language systems for flawless voice control of the car’s controls. Nvidia’s technology also could support gesture recognition and gaze tracking, enabling more convenience and safety.

“In just a few years, every new vehicle will be expected to have AI assistants for voice, gesture, and facial recognition as well as augmented reality,” said Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess. “Volkswagen’s work with Nvidia DRIVE IX technology will make that a reality. Together, we are building a new generation of cars that are safer, more enjoyable to ride in than anything that has come before, and accessible to everyone.”

VW’s goal with the Drive IX technology is to develop “Intelligent Co-Pilot” applications, which are comprised of convenience and assistance systems that process data gathered from sensors located in the interior and exterior of the car.

“The systems can be enhanced throughout the life of the vehicle via software updates, and can gain new capabilities as further developments are made in autonomous driving,” VW stated. “Thanks to deep learning, the car of the future will learn to accurately assess situations and analyze the behavior of others on the road, enabling it to make the right decisions.”

The I.D. Buzz is expected to debut at VW dealerships in 2020.

Nirel Marofsky is project analyst for the cognitive engine and application ecosystem at Veritone. She acts as a liaison to strategic partners, integrating developers and their capabilities into the Veritone aiWARE platform. Learn more about our platform and join the Veritone developer ecosystem today.