VW Announces Partnership with Autonomous Tech Gurus, Aurora

If, in the not-so-distant future, you’re riding in an autonomous Volkswagen Group vehicle, you’ll have Aurora Innovations to thank. That’s because today, the two firms announced a strategic collaboration to bring autonomous cars to the roads.

The Palo Alto, California based technology firm works primarily in the field of autonomous vehicles, working with automakers around the world.

“Our priority at Aurora is to make self-driving cars a reality quickly, broadly and safely,” said Chris Urmson, CEO of Aurora, in a statement. “And we know we will get there faster by partnering with innovative automakers like the Volkswagen Group.”

The announcement comes ahead of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, but VW and Aurora have been working together for six months now, to get sensors, software, and more integrated into VW’s platforms.

The collaboration builds on the promises VW made in its TOGETHER — Strategy 2025 manifesto. Since then, we’ve seen SEDRIC, the first completely autonomous concept from the VW Group, towards which the Group will work with even more focus now.

Long before TOGETHER — Strategy 2025, though, VW was working towards autonomy. Since 2005 when it won the DARPA challenge, VW has been working to get autonomous cars on the road.

“Our vision is ‘Mobility for all, at the push of a button’,” said Johann Jungwirth, VW’s Chief Digital Officer. “This means that we want to offer mobility for all people around the world. Mobility also for children, elderly, sick and visually impaired people, really for all.”

As for what the system will look like for the user, it should come as no surprise that Jungwirth foresees an app-like interface. Users would hail a ride through their phone or from their key, which would be GPS tagged to let the car know where to pick you up. From there, the car would ferry you to your destination.

“Working with Aurora, a leading self-driving system company, will give us a giant leap forward in our mission to become the world’s leading provider of sustainable mobility, with self-driving vehicles,” said Jungwirth. “Our aim is to create new Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) solutions which customers will be really passionate about because they have been tailored to the human with highest safety standards, best-in-class user experience and digital intelligence.”