As the arms race for autonomous driving technology heats up, Volkswagen today announced several updates, highlighting the company’s focus on future transportation solutions. VW is moving to the next stage of research and development on driverless technology, but the automaker will be stuck in commercial vehicles instead of individual passenger vehicles.
We have reported on the progress that Argo, VW’s main autonomous partner, is making through its multi-city pilot program around the world. Argo is set to open a new test site in Munich, Germany, later this year, with autonomous versions of the upcoming ID Buzz on the road for use in ride-hailing and car-sharing services. It complements the fleet of research vehicles already tested in places like Miami, Florida and Austin, Texas.
Meanwhile, Moia – Volkswagen’s second autonomous partner – will offer the first driverless vehicle ride ride pooling in Hamburg, Germany by the end of 2021. While neither Volkswagen nor Moia have yet commented on the program, the partnership has announced that the move will help meet the goal of broader autonomous transportation options in selected cities by 2025.
While today’s briefing only covers commercial vehicles, it’s easy to see a trail of passenger cars with ID Buzz, which will hit the U.S. market in 2023. Extended autonomous research includes cameras examining key components of technology such as leaders, radar, and the like, all of which will move into driverless passenger vehicles over time.
Volkswagen’s goal of offering autonomous ride pooling options worldwide by 2025 remains an ambitious one. With partners like Argo and Moia locked in, we expect to hear more details about trial programs soon – especially the first passengers to get into a driverless ID Buzz car within a few months.