Volkswagen scrambles to catch up to Tesla’s focus on software
There’s no question that even a legacy car manufacturer like Volkswagen has a lot of catching up to do if it hopes to model Tesla’s hyperfocus on software. As one small solution, the German automaker is now offering a programming school to help train and hire software professionals in anticipation of a software-based automobile future.
Volkswagen’s Faculty 73 programming school offers training for people interested in learning software and someday working for the auto giant, as detailed in a report last month from DW.
Rene Körner, one such student, recounted to the publication how the program let him move back into the software world after being forced to drop out of school and get a job waiting tables to support a family member with unexpected medical needs.
"The restaurant job was fun, but it was not fulfilling," Körner said. "A friend, who was writing her doctoral thesis at Volkswagen, told me about this new programming school in Wolfsburg, Faculty 73. It offered a great opportunity: a chance to work for VW and do things that I really enjoyed doing."
Körner finished the Faculty 73 program last March and gained a full-time offer from Volkswagen to do back-office IT work.
"For now, I am just having fun. I want to grow further as a software developer, as a product owner. These are interesting times at VW as it turns its focus to electric vehicles. It's just what I had ever wished for,” he added.
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Volkswagen’s programs extend to budding IT professionals, software developers and other talents that will be needed as the industry moves to software and electric vehicles — like the ones Tesla has made standard.
And with Volkswagen recently announcing plans to use Argo AI self-driving software, as reported by earlier this month by CarBuzz, the automaker’s going to need all the software help it can get if it hopes to catch up with all that Tesla has done.
Most companies' current standards for self-driving can be traced back to Tesla’s business model, and their move to create AI solutions for problems on the road.
To be sure, Tesla's software is far from perfect. According to Jalopnik, Tesla is even being ordered by German courts to buy back a Model 3 from one buyer, who likened the Autopilot system to a "drunk novice driver."
However, no other company is or has been testing autonomous driving or driver assistance systems to the extent that Tesla has. Autopilot was introduced in 2016, and the even-more-robust Full Self-Driving beta was shared in 2020, and later expanded to a wider audience in 2021.
Neither of Tesla’s advanced driver assistance systems is perfect (which some might expect at the FSD beta’s hefty price point of $12,000), but it’s worth noting that they’re being tested widely and regularly, especially when compared with those of other automakers such as Volkswagen.