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Argo AI is Now Testing Autonomous Vehicles on the Roads of Munich

As Munich continues to make a name for itself as one of Europe’s major tech startup hubs, with a growing focus on next-gen mobility solutions, Argo AI and Volkswagen are happy to take this one step further by beginning to safely test our autonomous vehicles on Munich’s city streets. 

There is a significant amount of work to be done in advance of our operation of self-driving vehicles on public roads in Munich to ensure that we first meet the high bar of our safety requirements for testing in a new city. First, we must create a high-precision 3D map of the built and natural environment within Munich streets. This map helps to familiarize our self-driving system with the city and give our vehicles a degree of inherent “knowledge” similar to that of a human driver who’s been driving in the area for a long time. This is the phase you’ll witness when you first observe our test vehicles – based on the upcoming VW ID. Buzz – on the roads. To ensure this initial phase is performed safely, specially-trained employees manually drive the vehicles. These employees are our Test Specialists, and they sit in the front seats even when the vehicles first begin testing in autonomous mode. 

The comprehensive 3D map, or model, we create of the environment in which we’re operating is much more advanced than a GPS map you find on a smartphone. We incorporate not only the city’s crosswalks, bike lanes and complex intersections, but also local laws and regulations- down to precisely-located speed limits and traffic signals. We also map other important objects that our vehicles encounter on the road, such as stationary objects like buildings and statues, and natural objects like trees and shrubs.  

Our technology also learns about Munich’s social driving norms and the nuances of its advanced mobility culture, such as pedestrian and bicyclist behaviors. This helps teach our autonomous vehicles to drive “naturalistically” and safely, smoothly coexisting with other vehicles and people that share the road. 

Ultimately, we design the vehicles to operate naturally so that when someone sees an Argo self-driving car pass by, all that registers in the back of their mind is that this vehicle is trained to drive safely and help bring the future to Munich.

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