Autonomous Vehicles

Wolfsburg’s new sister city: Palo Alto

Sedric goes to sunny California. Source: Volkswagen

Volkswagen is ready to deploy the resources of the world’s largest carmaker to turbo-charge its drive into autonomous vehicles with a linkup to Silicon Valley’s hottest mobility startup. Eager to put the damage from the Dieselgate emissions scandal behind it, VW Thursday announced a new partnership with Aurora Innovation to put self-driving cars on the road by 2021.

“We want to get into the passing lane of autonomous driving with Aurora,” Johann Jungwirth, VW’s chief digital officer, told Handelsblatt. “When we bring our autonomous vehicles into the first cities in 2021, we will be profitable from day one.”

By joining forces with the Palo Alto, California startup founded by the former autonomous vehicle gurus at Google and Tesla, Wolfsburg-based VW hopes to catch up with Alphabet’s Google, which has already test-driven millions of miles in developing its self-driving cars.

Barely a year old, Aurora was founded by former Google roboticist Chris Urmson, former Tesla roboticist Sterling Anderson, and Drew Bagnell, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. The startup has fewer than a hundred employees but has created a lot of buzz because of the pedigrees of its founders. “We believe that our cooperation with automakers like Volkswagen helps us to go to market most quickly,” Mr. Anderson said. Aurora also announced a partnership with South Korean automaker Hyundai.

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