VW expands autonomy research in California

Jon Lawson

Volkswagen has announced the opening of a North American centre of excellence for autonomous vehicle research and development under a new subsidiary, Volkswagen Autonomy. It will be based at Volkswagen’s Innovation and Engineering Centre California in Belmont, and anticipates hiring 50 to 100 experts in Systems Engineering and Architecture this year. It will leverage all of Volkswagen Group’s technology partnerships, with a goal of commercialising autonomous technology in the future.

"With our Volkswagen Autonomy subsidiary in Silicon Valley, we want to tap into one of the largest talent pools for autonomous technology in the world and combine it with our global scale and eight decades of experience in vehicle production,” said Alexander Hitzinger, CEO of Volkswagen Autonomy. “We see this work finding use across our Group brands as we tackle technological challenges and cost hurdles to make the promise of autonomous driving a reality."

Volkswagen Autonomy has offices in Munich currently, and anticipates opening another subsidiary in China soon, making it a truly global Technology Company. The unit will handle all work for the Volkswagen Group in helping develop autonomous systems that have the potential to handle multiple stages of autonomous driving functions.

Volkswagen Group expects the first use cases for autonomous vehicles to come in the commercial sector, and Volkswagen Autonomy will develop the production systems that integrate into Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles used for such tasks as autonomous taxis or goods transport – as demonstrated in the original ID. BUZZ electric concept. Volkswagen Autonomy also sees great promise for autonomous vehicles in urban centres to help reduce pollution and congestion.

“We are establishing a technological powerhouse, which brings the know-how of one of the world’s largest automotive manufacturers together with the culture and the agile working techniques of the Technology sector,” said Hitzinger. “We want to offer the best combination of hardware and software, integrated in a package that provides life-changing benefits to our customers.”