Volkswagen, being the pragmatic bunch of Germans that it is, is fully willing to admit that it might not be leading the drive toward full vehicle autonomy.
Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess told Germany's Welt am Sonntag newspaper that it's not leading the autonomous charge by a long shot, Reuters reports. Diess estimates that Google's Waymo is approximately 1 or 2 years ahead of his own company.
It doesn't even take a passing glance to realize just how far Waymo has progressed. Thus far, the Alphabet subsidiary has racked up more than 10 million real-world miles in its self-driving cars, in addition to countless more miles in its simulators. Waymo was also the first automaker to receive a permit from the State of California to test truly driverless vehicles on its public roads.
Those are definitely big milestones, but the biggest thus far should happen within the next few weeks. It's been reported that Waymo will launch its self-driving service to the public in December. Starting in the Phoenix area, where Waymo has concentrated most of its AV development in recent years, the pilot will offer the public a chance to hail a ride across town in one of Waymo's self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans. Other companies have plans for similar services, VW included, but they're not quite ready for primetime.
But, as Diess told Welt am Sonntag, "The game is not yet lost." Diess said Volkswagen is "determined to catch up," and that it possibly can, although regulations might stand between VW and its attempts to reach self-driving parity with the Google offshoot.
It's not like VW is holding back its efforts in any way. The company recently announced a $50 billion investment in next-gen automotive technologies, including mobility services, electrification and -- you guessed it -- autonomous driving.
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