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Volkswagen’s Self-Driving Cars Begin Testing in Texas

The first autonomous driving test for Volkswagen in the United States will take place in Austin, Texas, in July with the introduction of a fleet of self-driving Volkswagen ID Buzz EVs. By distributing its self-driving electric vehicles (EVs) throughout the Texas capital by 2026, especially downtown where traffic and congestion are among the highest in the city, Volkswagen hopes to maintain Austin’s uniqueness beyond the pilot programme.

Volkswagen claims that within the next three years it would employ its fleet of autonomous vehicles in Austin for ride hailing and package delivery, depending on the results of these testing. Ten Volkswagen ID Buzz vans from the company Mobileye, which cooperated with VW to create its self-driving cars, are part of the test fleet. The vans are equipped with a variety of sensors (cameras, radar, and lidar).

According to reports, the self-driving cars are prepared for SAE Level 4 operation, which entails full autonomy along predetermined routes or sites. That’s fine and all, but public highways can be unexpected. Additionally, Austin’s public roads experience varied degrees of intense traffic and aggressive driving. Therefore, it’s fortunate that a human driver will always be present in the VW ID Buzz EVs—at least during the initial test beginning in July.

According to Reuters, Volkswagen’s agreement with Mobileye represents a “strategic shift” away from Ford’s self-driving technology business, Argo, which had been collaborating with VW until shutting down. Volkswagen acquired the Austin office of the defunct Argo, which had already been conducting AV tests in Austin, along with about 100 of its employees. These assets will be a part of a new VW company based in Austin, Texas, and Belmont, California, which will manage the introduction of the automaker’s self-driving vehicles in the United States.

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