VW announces new Silicon Valley self-driving nerve center at CES
The German automaker also announces the creation of the Volkswagen Autonomy, Inc. division to support these new operations.
Chris PaukertFormer executive editor / Cars
Following stints in TV news production and as a record company publicist, Chris spent most of his career in automotive publishing. Mentored by Automobile Magazine founder David E. Davis Jr., Paukert succeeded Davis as editor-in-chief of Winding Road, a pioneering e-mag, before serving as Autoblog's executive editor from 2008 to 2015.
Chris is a Webby and Telly award-winning video producer and has served on the jury of the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards. He joined the CNET team in 2015, bringing a small cache of odd, underappreciated cars with him.
On Wednesday at CES, Volkswagen detailed an important new step in the company's march towards self-driving cars: the establishment not just of a new nerve center in Silicon Valley to research and develop the technology, but also the creation of Volkswagen Autonomy, Inc., a subsidiary division to support it.
Based out of Belmont, California (about 25 miles south of San Francisco) at VW's preexisting Innovation and Engineering Center California, the new engineering center is expected to result in the hiring of 50 to 100 systems engineering and architecture experts this year. As the new operations grow, Volkswagen Autonomy, Inc. may eventually relocate to a nearby facility or expand the existing space, a company spokesperson tells Roadshow.
The newly created Volkswagen Autonomy, Inc., will be part of Volkswagen Autonomy GmbH, the umbrella organization within the German automaker charged with developing and commercializing robotic cars and trucks worldwide. Presently, Volkswagen Autonomy is based out of Munich, but the automaker says additional offices are expected in China soon, as well.
Locating the new center in the same region as significant Tesla and Waymo operations makes good sense, if only to tempt the ranks of engineers already working on similar technologies for other companies. "With our Volkswagen Autonomy subsidiary in Silicon Valley, we want to tap into one of the largest talent pools for autonomous technology in the world and combine it with our global scale and eight decades of experience in vehicle production," said Alexander Hitzinger, CEO of Volkswagen Autonomy GmbH in a prepared statement.
The new Silicon Valley operations will not only work on developing the technology for future self-driving cars for consumers, but also autonomous commercial vehicles, as well. In fact, VW believes fully automated driving will first arrive not in passenger cars, but instead in commercial applications like taxis or delivery vehicles like the ID Buzz Cargo shown above.
Watch this: Get a closer took at the Volkswagen ID Buzz Cargo van