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Volkswagen, Hyundai partner with former Google, Tesla execs for driverless cars

08 January, 2018

Three former employees from Google, Tesla and Uber have come together to create a startup, Aurora, which has partnered with automakers Volkswagen AG and Hyundai Moto Corp to develop self-driving electric vehicles, a report in Bloomberg stated.

Through the partnership, the automotive majors will explore self-driving capabilities for taxi services, robotic deliveries, and in-car advertising, the report added.

Aurora’s involvement will boost Hyundai’s and Volkswagen’s efforts to challenge rivals in the self-driving space such as Tesla, Alphabet’s Waymo and other ride-hailing firms, Bloomberg said.

Aurora’s founders were previously key employees of the autonomous car units at the three tech firms.

Chris Urmson was the former director of Google’s car project, now called Waymo; Sterling Anderson was the former head of Tesla’s Autopilot programme; and Drew Bagnell was an associate professor at Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute and a founding member of Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center, the report said.

However, Tesla didn’t take kindly to Anderson joining Aurora. It had filed a breach of contract case in January 2017 which was later dropped in April that year, Bloomberg reported.

With Volkswagen, Aurora will develop self-driving cars for Moia, the German carmaker’s ride-hailing network, Johann Jungwirth, the German automaker’s chief digital officer, told Bloomberg. Aurora has begun testing its self-driving systems with the Audi Q7 model, he added.

For Hyundai, Aurora will co-develop a self-driving electric car that runs on fuel cells, Woongjun Jang, director of Hyundai’s Advanced Driver Assistance System Development Group, told the financial news website.

The electric vehicle market in India saw increased participation by the government in 2017. Last year, Niti Aayog, the government’s think-tank, introduced a policy document on electric vehicles, which outlined a 15-year roadmap to achieve complete electrification, a report in The Economic Times stated.

The government has already placed its first order, worth Rs 2,000 crore, for 10,000 vehicles to electrify buses in 11 cities in the country, the report added.

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Volkswagen, Hyundai partner with former Google, Tesla execs for driverless cars

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