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Volkswagen Launches Inaugural Autonomous Testing Program in the United States

Volkswagen Group of America (VWGoA) is set to launch its inaugural autonomous vehicle test program in Austin, Texas in July 2023. The program will involve ten all-electric ID. Buzz vehicles equipped with autonomous driving technology developed jointly by Volkswagen Group and Mobileye.

Over the next three years, VWGoA plans to expand its test fleet in Austin and extend testing operations to at least four additional cities in the United States. The company aims to commercially launch autonomous vehicles in Austin by 2026.

Pablo Di Si, the president, and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, expressed excitement about introducing the ID. Buzz vehicles to American roads. Di Si highlighted the importance of extending Volkswagen Group’s worldwide autonomous driving initiative to the United States, signifying a major achievement for the organization. He further stated that the introduction of the iconic ID. Buzz would offer a captivating product that American consumers could rely on and trust, tapping into the growing demand for new mobility services.

To spearhead strategy and business development in the USA, VWGoA has established the Volkswagen ADMT subsidiary, with teams in Belmont, California, and Austin, Texas. The company also plans to employ individuals who have previously worked for Argo AI. The ID. Buzz vehicles in the test fleet will be supplied by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles in Germany.

Looking ahead, Volkswagen aims to offer specially designed fleets of ID. Buzz autonomous vehicles as a comprehensive service, including fleet management and remote guidance solutions for other companies in the mobility and transportation sector. However, the company clarified that it currently has no plans to establish a ride-hailing or ride-sharing service.

Christian Senger, a member of the board of management of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles responsible for the development of autonomous driving, emphasized that expanding the autonomous vehicle program to North America represents the next step in Volkswagen’s global strategic roadmap. This move is the result of a long-term collaborative investment and will allow the company to test, validate, and refine the technology, leading to commercially available transportation offerings and an expanded mobility portfolio for the Volkswagen Group.

The growing test fleet in Austin will gather a wide range of data from various driving scenarios. The ID. Buzz vehicles, operating at SAE Level 4 autonomy, will be equipped with cameras, radar, and lidar technology. During the initial test phase, all the vehicles will have a human driver present at all times to supervise operations.

Katrin Lohmann, president of Volkswagen ADMT, expressed enthusiasm about rolling out the autonomous pilot and test fleet in Austin. The city was selected as the first hub in the United States due to its history of embracing innovation and providing a conducive environment for autonomous vehicle testing. Lohmann stressed the company’s commitment to maintaining an open and collaborative dialogue with the city and its diverse stakeholders.

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