Volkswagen AG will start testing its autonomous vehicles on public roads for the first time this month in Austin, Texas.
said Thursday the test program will start with two vehicles this July, and expand to a fleet of 10 ID Buzz electric vans by the end of this year. The program plans to broaden its scope in Austin over the next three years, and eventually expand to at least four more U.S. cities ahead of a planned commercial launch of VW’s autonomous vehicles in Austin by 2026.
VW’s test vehicles will be outfitted with autonomous-driving technology developed by VW and Mobileye
including cameras, radar and lidar technology. The vehicles will be supervised by human drivers during the initial phase.
Pablo Di Si, Volkswagen Group of America’s president and CEO, said the launch “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,” he said in a statement.
Austin was chosen because it “has a track record for embracing innovation and offers a conducive climate for the testing of autonomous vehicles,” Katrin Lohmann, Volkswagen Group of America’s president, said in a statement. “We are committed to continuing an open and collaborative dialogue with the city and its diverse stakeholders.”
The Austin rollout is the first part of a global strategy to offer fleets of autonomous vehicles “as a comprehensive service” to other companies. VW said it has no plans to develop a dedicated ride-hailing or ride-sharing service at this time.
Volkswagen joins a number of other autonomous-driving companies operating in Austin, including Alphabet’s