German automaker Volkswagen revealed on Thursday its intention to introduce self-driving vehicles for ride-hailing and goods delivery services in Austin, Texas by 2026.
The company’s strategic shift follows a costly investment in Ford’s now-closed self-driving car unit, Argo, and subsequent collaboration with supplier Mobileye.
As part of its initial testing phase this year, it intends to deploy 10 retrofitted ID Buzz electric vehicles equipped with Mobileye’s autonomous driving platform. These vehicles will operate with safety drivers on board, confined to specific areas of Austin including downtown. In acquiring Argo, Volkswagen also gained approximately 100 employees and control of their testing hub in Austin.
Volkswagen aims to capitalize on Mobileye’s supply base and map data, enabling the achievement of economies of scale and cost reduction. Christian Senger, a Volkswagen board member responsible for autonomous driving development, emphasized their goal of bringing fully autonomous vehicles to the market as a scalable commercial product.
Joining the ranks of GM’s Cruise and Alphabet’s Waymo, Volkswagen joins the testing of autonomous vehicles in Austin, Texas. The city is renowned for its lenient regulations concerning self-driving cars, attracting companies seeking a favorable testing environment.
“We are currently actively assessing various opportunities for different cities,” stated Katrin Lohmann, President of Volkswagen ADMT.
Numerous companies have invested billions of dollars in the development of autonomous vehicle technology, emphasizing its potential to enhance road safety. However, notable players such as Tesla, Cruise, and Waymo have faced setbacks in meeting their self-imposed deadlines for launching self-driving cars and overcoming challenges presented by unforeseen driving scenario