Two of the world’s biggest car makers have broken the buck of automakers shying away from collaboration with Silicon Valley companies. Volkswagen and Hyundai have announced a partnership with Aurora, a startup that makes intelligent software that powers autonomous cars, to pursue production of self-driving vehicles. If all goes according to plan, Volkswagen and Hyundai self-driving cars will be on the road by 2021.
About Aurora Innovation
Volkswagen we know. Hyundai we know. Who is Aurora? Aurora Innovation was started in 2017 by by Sterling Anderson, who was once director of Autopilot programmes at Tesla, Chris Urmson, former CTO of Google’s self-driving car programme, and Drew Bagnell, who was in charge of autonomy and perception at Uber’s Advanced Technology Center.
So, when you think Aurora, think Tesla, Google and Uber in one package. That is a compelling combination. The company has been working in Pittsburgh with Audi since 2017 to fine-tune its software and data.
The software company’s focus is to deliver “self-driving technology quickly and safely around the world”. The two automakers will integrate Aurora Innovation’s software, artificial intelligence systems and sensors into their vehicles.
Traditional Automakers Embrace Silicon Valley
This move by Hyundai and Volkswagen is a departure from the traditional approach adopted by most automakers. Car makers had initially snubbed Silicon Valley in a bid to not give up control. See our article, Why Automakers are saying No to Android-powered cars.
The two auto giants expect their self-driving vehicles to launch in commercial capacity in 2021, specifically for ride-hailing services. So, expect to see self-driving taxis from both manufacturers in a few years.
Hyundai Self-driving Cars As Taxis
The way that Volkswagen and Hyundai self-driving cars will first be widely deployed as ride-hailing taxis seems to be the first stage of autonomous vehicles for many brands and users. This is different from Tesla’s approach, which has been a direct targeting of the consumer market.