The automobile industry is on the verge of the self-driving vehicle revolution. Almost all vehicle manufacturers are investing heavily in developing an autonomous vehicle. While some like EV giant Tesla are building the technology in-house, many others like BMW, Ford, and GM, among others, are investing in external companies for a solution. German automaker Volkswagen can also be added to the list with its latest announcement of completing its €2.3 billion investment in Argo AI.
Why Volkswagen bid on a Pittsburgh-based self-driving startup
Volkswagen has finalised its €2.3 billion investment in Argo AI, which is a Pittsburgh-based self-driving car startup. Argo is already backed by the US automotive manufacturer Ford with €890 million funding. The company is developing virtual driver systems and high-definition maps for Ford and the same will now be made for Volkswagen.
One of the main reasons why Volkswagen is investing in the startup is to lower the costs associated with developing a self-driving vehicle. Under the deal, both Ford and VW will share the development cost for Argo AI’s self-driving vehicle technology. Furthermore, Argo AI’s self-driving software also gets commercial deployment plans in both Europe and the U.S. The investment also paves the way for expanding Argo’s operations to Europe.
Volkswagen’s self-driving subsidiary, Autonomous Intelligent Driving (AID), was launched in 2017 to develop autonomous vehicle technology. It will be absorbed into Argo AI and AID’s Munich offices will be the company’s new European headquarters. Argo already has offices in Detroit, Palo Alto and Cranbury, New Jersey, and this deal will expand its workforce to over 1000 people.
Europe moving towards being a hub of self-driving innovation
The autonomous vehicle market is estimated to progress rapidly in Europe. There are already established players working on self-driving technology. However, numerous startups are also making a name for themselves in this space.
France-based NAVYA is one such company that is already testing a couple of autonomous vehicles in its portfolio. Furthermore, Netherlands based startup Amber is working on a flexible car-sharing platform that works with modular electric cars. You can read more about such innovative startups here.
Image credits: Argo AI
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