Volkswagen to Test Autonomous Vehicles in Texas

German auto giant Volkswagen said Thursday it will start testing self-driving vehicles in Texas this month, and plans a commercial launch in the state in 2026.

Ten ID. Buzz electric minivans will be used in the trials in the state's capital, Austin, the automaker's first autonomous driving test program in the United States.

They will be fitted with a self-driving platform developed by VW and its partner, technology firm Mobileye, Volkswagen said in a statement.

Photo: Volkswagen

The vehicles will collect data during the trials and, in the initial test phase, will have human safety drivers.

Over the next three years, Volkswagen's American subsidiary plans to grow its test fleet in Austin and expand trials to at least four more U.S. cities.

"Moving into this next phase will help us test, validate and refine technology," said Christian Senger, a Volkswagen board member responsible for development of autonomous driving.

It will "bring us closer to establishing commercially available transportation offerings," he added.

A commercial launch of self-driving vehicles in Austin is planned for 2026, Volkswagen said.

The 10-brand group -- which includes Porsche, Skoda and Seat -- explained that it selected Austin as its first U.S. hub for self-driving tests as it has a track record of offering a conducive climate for such trials.

Leading carmakers have been pouring huge sums into trying to develop self-driving technology, although they have struggled to meet deadlines.

Watch: Overview of the Volkswagen ID. Buzz

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