Volkswagen AG has announced that it has created a new company called Volkswagen Autonomy (VWAT) GmbH which will be the company’s centre that will be researching and developing technology for autonomous driving. The company will be directed by Alexander Hitzinger, Senior Vice President for autonomous driving in the Volkswagen Group and Member of the Volkswagen Brand Board of Management responsible for Technical Development at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles (VWCV).
Hitzinger’s appointment as the director of the company comes as Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is headquartered in Hanover and is the brand that is spearheading the group’s Autonomous Driving programme along with Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS), and Transport-as-a- Service (TaaS). The new company – VWAT will bundle the VW Group’s activities for the development of self-driving systems from Level 4 autonomous technology at planned four planned sites. The company will be headquartered in Munich and Wolfsburg. Another subsidiary in Silicon Valley will follow in 2020 which will then be further expanded to a further subsidiary is planned in China in 2021.
“We want to establish Volkswagen Autonomy as a global technology company where we bundle expertise from the automotive and technology industries, combining the agility and creativity of a high-performance culture with process orientation and scalability,” says Alexander Hitzinger. “We will continue to use synergies across all Group brands to reduce the cost of self-driving vehicles, high-performance computers, and sensors. We plan to start commercialising autonomous driving at a large scale around the middle of the next decade.”
The first application of the autonomous technology in the commercial sector by building special purpose vehicles (SPV) such as robo taxis and robo vans. In July this year, the VW Group announced its cooperation with Ford which is still subject to official approvals as stated by the German brand, in addition to a stake in ARGO AI, a company specialised in the software development for autonomous driving. ARGO AI and the VW Group will work closely to develop and bring the technology to the market.
“Autonomous driving presents the entire industry with major challenges: high development costs, extremely high demands on sensor technology plus a lack of regulatory systems and heterogeneous regional standards,” says Alexander Hitzinger. “Our goal is to build an agile, high- performance development team with the know-how to realise a self-driving system ready to market.”
In addition to managing the operations of the development, verification and validation of the systems, VWAT will be responsible and will take control of all activities which relate to Level 4 Autonomous Driving technology for the VW Group.
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