Volkswagen and Hyundai to Launch Self-Driving Cars by 2021

Volkswagen Group and Hyundai have announced their decision to join Aurora Innovations – the company started by Chris Urmson in 2016 – with the aim to make fully autonomous (or self-driving) vehicles a reality.

The Goal

The aim of both companies – VW Group and Hyundai – is to ensure the availability of autonomous vehicles commercially by 2021. Prototyping by both companies will start towards the end of this year, with Hyundai implementing the Aurora technology on its SUVs.

According to the Chief Digital Officer at VW Group, Johann Jungwirth, the number of cars tested will reach a double-digit number by the end of the year. He further added that while half of these cars will be tested in the Silicon Valley, the rest of them will be tested in Germany.

“At Aurora, we’re building a driver. We’re not building a driver assistance system,” said Urmson.

By 2019, Aurora and VW Group are looking to increase that number to triple-digits with the hope of going even higher then that by 2020 and launching fleets of self-driving cars in a few cities by 2021.

Urmson and his team of Automotive Engineers at Aurora Innovations are trying to build cars that will have an autonomy of Level 4 or 5. Level 4 cars will be fully autonomous but within a specified geographical area.

At Level 5, however, is a complete turnaround allowing cars full autonomy over no specified area.

A partnership has been made between the three companies as Hyundai and VW build the cars while Aurora focuses on the cars’ internal working.

Aurora’s Talent – A Real Charmer   

Hyundai and VW Group do not stand to be the only companies investing in self-driving technology. Several other companies, too, have started their journey on the road to autonomous cars.

General Motors aims to launch a fleet of self-driving taxis by 2019 and it is probable that Ford will also launch self-driving Ford Fusions with AI by 2021. Tesla and Google are already leading the auto industry as far as self driving cars are concerned.

What pushed the VW Group into collaborating with a mere start-up was Aurora’s impressive team, Johann Jungwirth says,

The team they’ve been able to hire, the talent they are attracting? They are the best in the world. The progress they have made in such a short time frame, it’s just amazing.

According to Urmson, the formula for keeping an impressive team of employees is simple: providing the people with an interesting mission to complete while treating them with respect.