VW has ended its partnership with Aurora, an autonomous-driving developer supported by Amazon, thus opening the way to collaborate with Ford and Argo AI instead.
Financial Times report a VW spokesperson confirmed the split, but declined to add details on the matter, simply stating “the activities under our parameters have been concluded in regard to Aurora” and that talks with Ford “are progressing very well.”
Aurora and VW entered a partnership in early 2018, with Chris Urmson, the company’s founder and Waymo’s ex-technical lead, saying that the “deep collaboration” of the two companies would “bring self-driving vehicles to market at scale”.
Citing three people familiar with the issue, the FT claim that after a trial run that lasted many months, the German automaker eventually declined to renew the contract. Johann Jungwirth, the VW executive that oversaw the partnership with Aurora, has also departed the German car maker as of June 1.
Aurora announced this week a partnership with FCA, who will use their automated-driving software in its vehicles, with prototypes to be tested on the road in the next 3 to 5 years.
VW is reportedly after a deal with Ford, which could be finalized this summer. This partnership makes sense for both car makers as they are after cutting costs but, at the same time, want to keep control over both the hardware and software.
Another source said that Wolfsburg was simply underwhelmed by Aurora’s technology. When it came on the scene, the start-up promised to have highly-autonomous cars on the roads by early to mid-2020s, but during their time together, VW saw that Aurora’s timeline would not be feasible.
“The worry [at VW] was that some companies are doing the impossible,” this source said. “The reality was nobody is doing the impossible and Aurora wasn’t particularly special.”