Volkswagen will join the list of car companies testing driverless vehicles on Austin streets, where they'll make their US debut.
Starting this month, the company will begin deploying its all-electric ID Buzz microbuses to drive themselves around the Texas capital. The vehicles will be equipped with an autonomous driving technology platform developed by the Volkswagen Group and Israeli tech company Mobileye.
The company plans to have 10 of the vehicles on Austin streets by the end of the year. It plans to increase the size of that test fleet as well as to expand to at least four more American cities over the next three years, with an anticipated 2026 commercial launch in Austin.
VW will have teams in Austin and California working on the research and development project, which use data collected by ID Buzzes (IDs Buzz?) driven in a "diversity of scenarios," around the city, according to a VW statement. Supervising humans will staff all of the vehicles during the initial test phase, the company says.
Austin has been the spot for autonomous vehicle testing by a number of companies — including Google, Alphabet-owned Waymo, Ford/VW-funded Argo AI, and GM-backed Cruise. The U.S. Department of Transportation named Texas a national Automated Vehicle Proving Ground in 2017.