Volkswagen has announced plans to test autonomous vehicles in the United States. The German automaker’s venture will kick off later this month with driverless versions of its iconic ID. Buzz on public roads in Tesla’s backyard, Austin, Texas.
Volkswagen has already been conducting extensive testing of its autonomous ID. Buzz vehicles in Germany, where it intends to introduce commercial robotaxi and delivery services by 2025. The autonomous driving software for these vehicles is being developed by another VW subsidiary, the automaker’s struggling software arm known as Cariad.
In addition to Austin, VW plans to test these vehicles in four other US cities within the next three years, with the ultimate goal of launching a full-fledged robotaxi service by 2026.
The fleet of ten ID Buzz microbuses will come equipped with autonomous driving software developed in collaboration with Mobileye. These vehicles will also be equipped with sensors such as cameras, radar, and lidar. For safety measures, each vehicle will have a trained safety driver on board to closely monitor operations and seamlessly assume control in situations where the vehicle encounters challenges it cannot autonomously overcome.
This announcement marks a significant shift in strategy for Volkswagen, following its recent withdrawal of funding from Argo AI, a self-driving startup that folded up its operations last year. Initially, VW intended to utilize Argo’s technology to power its fleet of self-driving ID. Buzz microbuses. However, the company has since taken matters into its own hands, embarking on an in-house endeavor in collaboration with its partner, Mobileye. Together, they are diligently developing the necessary hardware and software.