FRANKFURT -- Volkswagen will start field tests of self-driving vehicles for ride-sharing and pooling uses using technology developed by Argo AI, its autonomous driving joint venture launched with Ford Motor.
The field tests will take place in Germany this year using a highly automated version of VW's full-electric ID Buzz minivan as part of a plan to launch self-driving vehicles for ride-sharing and pooling uses in 2025.
"In the middle of this decade, our customers will then have the opportunity to be taken to their destination in selected cities with autonomous vehicles," said Christian Senger, VW's head of autonomous driving, in a statement.
VW Commercial Vehicles is responsible within VW Group for autonomous mobility services. Its test fleet will employ specially designed shuttle vehicles that use intelligence developed by Argo AI.
A VW Commercial Vehicles spokesman said it was too early to say whether private individuals would be allowed to participate in the pilot phase.
The production version of the retro-styled ID Buzz will launch as its passenger car version in 2022. It will be built at VW's factory in Hanover, Germany.
Last June VW completed a $2.6 billion investment in Argo AI.
In additional to the investment in Argo AI, VW Group is also investing billions in its Car.Software Organisation. This business unit develops, in parallel with Argo AI, assisted and automated driving functions up to level 4 for all VW Group brands.
The German government is currently in the process of passing legislation through parliament that would enable the commercialization of robotaxis.
Development of the robotaxi service is part of VW Group's five-year investment of 27 billion euros in digital applications that includes autonomous driving. VW Group has doubled its planned expenditure in software to cut into Tesla's lead.