Volkswagen Group of America is launching its first autonomous vehicle test program.
The company will kick off its program with a batch of 10 all-electric ID. Buzz vehicles in Austin, Texas this month.
Austin, which is the headquarters of Tesla, was selected because it is a city with a track record for embracing innovation, says Katrin Lohmann, president, Volkswagen ADMT, LLC.
“We are committed to continuing an open and collaborative dialogue with the city and its diverse stakeholders,” Lohmann says in a release.
The vehicles are outfitted with an autonomous driving technology platform developed by the global Volkswagen Group in partnership with technology company Mobileye, which includes cameras, radar, and lidar technology.
All vehicles will be staffed with supervising human drivers at all times throughout this initial test phase, according to the automaker.
Over the next three years, VWGoA plans to grow its test fleet in Austin and also progressively expand testing operations to at least four more American cities.
Building upon investments throughout this initial pilot, VWGoA anticipates a commercial launch of autonomous driving vehicles in Austin by 2026.
The start of VWGoA’s test program in the U.S. marks a further push for Volkswagen Group’s global autonomous driving vehicle research and development.
VWGoA will lead the strategy and business development in the U.S., and has established a subsidiary named Volkswagen ADMT, LLC1 to support the rollout of its autonomous driving vehicle program, with teams in Belmont, Calif. and Austin. The company plans to also employ team members who worked with Argo AI.
For the Austin test fleet, VWGoA plans to leverage autonomous driving technology and ID. Buzz vehicles provided by the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles brand in Germany.
Expanding Volkswagen Group’s global autonomous driving vehicle program to the United States marks an important milestone, says Pablo Di Si, president and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America.
“In the future, we will tap into rising demand for new mobility services, and with our iconic ID. Buzz, we will also offer a truly captivating product to support transportation services American consumers can rely upon and trust,” Di Si says in a release.
Down the road, VWGoA aims to offer fleets of specially designed ID. Buzz AD vehicles as a comprehensive service including fleet management and remote guidance solutions to other companies in the mobility and transportation space, and establish long-term partnerships.
VWGoA is not building a dedicated ride-hailing or ride-sharing service on its own at this time.