Austin, TX – Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. (VWGoA) has announced the launch of its first autonomous driving test program in Austin, Texas, starting in July 2023. The program will begin with a fleet of 10 all-electric ID. Buzz vehicles equipped with an autonomous driving technology platform developed by the global Volkswagen Group in collaboration with Mobileye, a technology company. Over the next three years, VWGoA plans to expand its test fleet in Austin and extend testing operations to at least four more cities in the United States. The company aims to commercially launch autonomous driving vehicles in Austin by 2026.
The introduction of VWGoA’s test program in the United States represents a significant step for Volkswagen Group’s global autonomous driving vehicle research and development efforts. VWGoA will lead the strategy and business development in the U.S. and has established a subsidiary called Volkswagen ADMT, LLC to support the rollout of its autonomous driving vehicle program. The subsidiary will have teams in Belmont, California, and Austin, Texas. VWGoA also plans to hire team members who previously worked with Argo AI.
The test fleet in Austin will consist of ID. Buzz vehicles and autonomous driving technology provided by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles in Germany. 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 leading companies in the mobility and transportation industry. The company intends to establish long-term partnerships but is not currently developing its own ride-hailing or ride-sharing service.
Christian Senger, Member of the board of management of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, responsible for the development of autonomous driving, stated that expanding the autonomous vehicle program to the North American region is a strategic move towards testing, validating, and refining the technology. It will bring them closer to offering commercially available transportation options and expanding the mobility portfolio of the Volkswagen Group.
In Austin, VWGoA plans to collect data through driven miles across various driving scenarios using the ID. Buzz AD vehicles. Each vehicle is equipped with a comprehensive autonomous driving technology platform that includes cameras, radar, and lidar technology. Throughout the initial test phase, all vehicles will have human drivers present to supervise the operations.
Austin was chosen as the first U.S. hub for the autonomous driving test program due to its history of embracing innovation and providing a conducive climate for testing autonomous vehicles. VWGoA is committed to maintaining an open and collaborative dialogue with the city and its diverse stakeholders.
The launch of Volkswagen’s autonomous driving test program in Austin signifies a significant step forward in the development of autonomous vehicles in the United States. As the program expands to other cities and progresses towards a commercial launch, it holds the potential to revolutionize transportation services and meet the rising demand for new mobility solutions in the American market.