Since 2016, General Motors’ self-driving subsidiary Cruise has been developing autonomous driving technologies in California. After years of testing, the robotaxi service is rapidly expanding into other markets, like Texas. Now, it appears as though Cruise may have some competition from another major automaker, as Volkswagen has announced that it will begin its own autonomous vehicle tests soon.
Using a batch of 10 ID. Buzz electric vehicles as testbeds, VW has announced that it will kick off develop of autonomous driving technologies in Austin, Texas sometime in July 2023.
“We are thrilled to bring our exciting ID. Buzz vehicles to American roads,” Volkswagen Group of America Pablo Di Si said in a prepared statement. “Expanding Volkswagen Group’s global autonomous driving vehicle program to the United States marks an important milestone for us. 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.”
VW’s AV technology comes as a result of a partnership with tech company Mobileye. Together, the two companies have outfitted each ID. Buzz EV with cameras, radar, and lidar technology to collect data across a wide range of driving scenarios. During this initial phase of testing, each vehicle will be supervised by human drivers.
It’s worth noting that Volkswagen anticipates a commercial launch of its self-driving technology by 2026.
“We are excited and ready to roll out our autonomous pilot and test fleet in Austin,” Volkswagen ADMT, LLC President Katrin Lohmann was quoted as saying. “We selected Austin as the first U.S. hub, as the city has a track record for embracing innovation and offers a conducive climate for the testing of autonomous vehicles. We are committed to continuing an open and collaborative dialogue with the city and its diverse stakeholders.”