Volkswagen will start testing its new autonomous vehicles in Germany this summer, the company announced Wednesday. The German automaker’s electric ID Buzz vans will use hardware and software developed by Argo AI, a Pittsburgh-based startup that is backed by Ford and VW. The aim is to launch a commercial delivery and micro-transit service in Germany by 2025.
Executives from VW and Argo convened a press conference this week to provide an update on their partnership, which was
Argo, which has been testing its vehicles in the US with Ford for the last few years, said it would be launching the fifth generation of its automated driving technology with the VW ID Buzz, which is the electric version of the automaker’s iconic microbus. Bryan Salesky, the startup’s founder and CEO, praised the collaborative nature of Argo and Volkswagen’s partnership.
“We’re building our technology and partnering with Volkswagen in a way that really sets us apart from what others are doing,” Salesky said. “And we think it really puts us in a position to deliver a safe, smart, and scalable product to deliver on the promise of autonomous driving.”
That work has already started. Earlier this year, Argo and VW developed a prototype minivan using the German company’s MEB electric vehicle platform inside the body of a VW T6 Transporter and Argo’s AV technology, including LIDAR sensors, radar, and cameras. In addition, Argo’s software enables the vehicle to “see” its environment, plan for its next steps, and predict the movements of other vehicles and pedestrians on the road. This, in combination with Argo’s sensor suite, allows for automated driving at low and high speeds, Salesky said.
VW said that it plans to put the vans in service as a ride-sharing fleet under its
“We have learned in recent years that both customers and cities have really high and very specific expectations towards future autonomous ride-pooling systems,” Henrich said. “Customers, on the one hand side, expect ride-pooling to be as easy, convenient, and reliable as riding their own car… But cities, on the other hand, expect ride pooling to help alleviate traffic congestion.”
The AV industry has been
“There is a long way to go still until this high tech becomes an enormous growth market,” said Christian Senger, VW’s senior VP for commercial vehicles.