May 12, 2021 - Economy

VW, Argo AI to test self-driving shuttles in Europe

Sketch of VW ID Buzz AD, a self-driving shuttle to be deployed in Germany

VW ID. Buzz AD

Pittsburgh-based Argo AI will begin testing self-driving Volkswagen vans in Germany this summer, its first test market outside the United States.

Why it matters: It's the first step toward launching an autonomous ride-pooling service in Europe by 2025, and eventually, in the U.S., the companies said.

Details: VW will integrate Argo's self-driving technology into its upcoming ID. BUZZ, an electric van reminiscent of VW's iconic Type 2 Microbus.

  • Testing will begin soon at a dedicated test track near the Munich Airport, similar to Argo's existing test center in Pittsburgh.
  • The plan is to launch an autonomous ride-pooling service in Hamburg by 2025, under VW's existing mobility brand, MOIA.
  • Autonomous delivery service using a cargo version of the vans will be added shortly thereafter.
  • The services will roll out in other cities later, including in the U.S., according to officials with VW's commercial vehicles division.

My thought bubble: Those self-driving vans could arrive here just in time to serve boomers who popularized the VW Microbus in the 1970s but don't drive anymore.

Yes, but: Americans will still be able to get their hands on the steering wheel of the ID. BUZZ when it goes on sale starting in 2023.

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