Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. (VWGoA) is set to launch its autonomous driving vehicle test fleet in Austin, Texas, starting in July 2023. The initial test program will feature 10 all-electric ID. Buzz vehicles equipped with the latest autonomous driving (AD) technology platform developed by the global Volkswagen Group in partnership with Mobileye. 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 ultimate goal is to launch commercial autonomous driving vehicles in Austin by 2026, reflecting VWGoA’s commitment to advancing global research and development in this field.
Pablo Di Si, President and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, expressed excitement about bringing the innovative ID. Buzz vehicles to American roads. He emphasized that expanding the autonomous driving vehicle program to the United States is a significant milestone, allowing VWGoA to meet the growing demand for new mobility services and provide trustworthy transportation options to American consumers.
The launch of VWGoA’s test program in the U.S. is part of Volkswagen Group’s broader efforts in autonomous driving vehicle research and development. VWGoA will take the lead in strategy and business development in the United States and has established a subsidiary called Volkswagen ADMT, LLC to support the rollout of the autonomous driving vehicle program, with teams in Belmont, California, and Austin, Texas. The company also plans to onboard team members with expertise from Argo AI.
For the test fleet, VWGoA will utilize the autonomous driving technology and ID. Buzz vehicles provided by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles in Germany. The company aims to offer specially designed fleets of 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, establishing long-term partnerships. VWGoA is currently not developing its own dedicated 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, highlighted that expanding the autonomous vehicle program to North America is the next step in their global strategic roadmap. It represents a significant investment and will allow them to test, validate, and enhance the technology, bringing them closer to offering commercially available transportation solutions and expanding the Volkswagen Group’s diverse mobility portfolio.
In Austin, VWGoA will employ its growing test fleet of ID. Buzz AD vehicles to collect data across a wide range of driving scenarios. Each of the initial SAE L4 ID. Buzz vehicles will be equipped with the advanced autonomous driving technology platform, including cameras, radar, and lidar technology, developed through the partnership between the Volkswagen Group and Mobileye. Throughout the initial test phase, human drivers will be present in all vehicles to supervise the autonomous operations.
Katrin Lohmann, President of Volkswagen ADMT, LLC, expressed enthusiasm for rolling out the autonomous pilot and test fleet in Austin. The city was chosen as the first U.S. hub due to its reputation for embracing innovation and providing a favorable environment for testing autonomous vehicles. VWGoA is committed to maintaining an open and collaborative dialogue with the city and its various stakeholders.