Volkswagen may have only just pulled its support from autonomous driving startup Argo AI, but it’s reportedly already looking at a new partner.
Reuters reports the German carmaker is planning to expand its partnership with Intel’s Mobileye to include its automated driving program, according to two sources familiar with the plan.
Mobileye, which develops a range of autonomous driving technologies, already has a working partnership with Cariad, Volkswagen’s software division.
Cariad is now taking the leading role in its drive to develop Level 3 autonomous driving technology following the shuttering of Argo AI.
“If you have obtained good results with one partner, it makes sense to work with them in other fields as well,” said one of the sources to Reuters.
Mobileye began trading on the Nasdaq stock exchange earlier this week in connection with its initial public offering (IPO) that saw it valued at more than $US20 billion ($A31 billion).
Founded in 2016, the Volkswagen and Ford-backed Argo AI received a $US1 billion ($A1.55 billion) investment from the Blue Oval and subsequently raised a further $US2.6 billion ($A4 billion) – largely from Ford and Volkswgen.
Ford recently recorded a $US2.7 billion ($A4.19 billion) non-cash pre-tax impairment on its investment in Argo AI, while Volkswagen might reportedly have to write down more than €1 billion ($A1.55 billion), according to a source familiar with the company.
Volkswagen has committed to work with Argo AI “to provide continued employment for employees and to further develop the most promising projects in the field of autonomous driving”.
“The aim is to provide functions for vehicles of the Volkswagen Group’s brand groups that allow drivers to explicitly take their hands off the steering wheel at times,” said the German automaker in regard to its ongoing autonomous driving technology development.
“These are advanced driver assistance systems, so-called level 2 systems, for city, countryside and highway, in which the driver is comprehensively supported by the vehicle, and a system in which the vehicle takes over the complete driving task on the highway (SAE level 3).
“The first functions are to be implemented in 2023.”
Volkswagen noted Cariad will handle development of “partially and highly automated driving functions” up to Level 4 autonomy, and will continue to work with Bosch. In the future, it will also work with Horizon Robotics in China.
Plans to roll out autonomous ID. Buzz people movers appear largely unaffected at this point in time.
Volkswagen expects customers in 2025 will be able to use ride-sharing service MOIA to book an autonomous ID. Buzz in Hamburg in 2025.
Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles also said it will shortly announce plans to expand its cooperation to develop technology for its autonomous driving vehicle fleets.
“In coordination with our shareholders, the decision has been made that Argo AI will not continue on its mission as a company,” Argo said in a statement.
“Many of the employees will receive an opportunity to continue work on automated driving technology with either Ford or Volkswagen, while employment for others will unfortunately come to an end.”
TechCrunch reported generous severance packages are being offered to those not being hired by Ford or Volkswagen. It has over 2000 employees globally, though it laid off around 150 back in July.