Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Waymo to add Jaguar's electric SUV to its fleet of self-driving taxis

Google's Waymo and Jaguar Land Rover have inked a deal that will add tens of thousands of the all-electric Jaguar I-Pace SUV's to Waymo's growing fleet of self-driving taxis.

The I-Pace SUV will be for those who want a high-end ride while Waymo's Chrysler Pacifica vans will be more of a regular people mover. People will pay a premium for riding in the Jaguars.
EV I-Pace models built as EVs from the start not retrofitted
The first prototype I-Pace fitted with Waymo's self-driving technology will be ready for public road testing by the end of 2018. It will officially become a part of Waymo's ride-hailing service beginning in 2020. Engineers from Waymo and Jaguar Land Rover (JLR)) will work together to build the cars to be self-driving from the start rather than retrofitting cars that come off the line.
Over the longer term. the two companies say they plan to build up to 20,000 vehicles just in the first two years of production. The goal is to serve 1 million trips a day.
The present situation
Waymo now has about 600 Chrysler Pacifica minivans in its fleet. Some of them are used to shuttle people around as part of its Early Rider program in Arizona. The vans are not purely electrical but plug-in hybrids fitted out with Waymo's hardware and software. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Waymo co-staff a facility in Michigan where they engineered the vehicles.
As well as the minivans, Waymo also owns a fleet of Lexus RX SUVs that are being phased out. The egg-shaped "Firefly" prototype was phased out last year.
The Jaguar I-Pace will be a higher performance, higher end companion to the more utilitarian Pacifica vans. The I-Pace when it debuted immediately appeared as competitors to Tesla's Model X 75D and Model S but thousands of dollars cheaper. It has a roomy anterior, luxury accent, and an impressive range and horsepower.
I-Pace addition could challenge GM's Cruise
GM Cruise LLC usually referred to a just Cruise or Cruise Automation is a US autonomous car company with headquarters in San Francisco California. The company was founded by Kyle Vogt and Daniel Kan in 2013 but was sold to GM in March 2016 for an undisclosed amount anywhere from more than $500 million to over $1 billion.
Cruise is currently testing 100s of self-driving Chev Bolts both in San Francisco and Arizona. Cruise hopes to launch a commercial taxi service by 2019.
GM sees the future of cars as both autonomous and electric with nothing else. Other companies such as Ford are also embracing hybrid autonomous vehicles as part of its strategy. Waymo too will have both plug-in hybrid Pacificas and the all electric I-Paces within its fleet.
Several cities should soon have commercial. self-driving cars
Waymo plans to start its fully autonomous ride-hailing service in Phoenix later this year. However, it also has test vehicles in Michigan, and also on the road in San Francisco., Washington State and Atlanta Georgia. John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo said that the company would announce its second commercial outlet later this year.
The addition of JLR into partnership could mean that the UK could also be targeted for the service.
JLR has also partnered with Lyft
Jaguar_Land_Rover (JLR) is a multinational automotive manufacturer with headquarters in Whitley, Coventry, the UK and now a subsidiary of the giant Indian company Tata. Jaguar and Land Rover were bought from Ford by Tata in 2008. On January 1 of 2013 the two firms were merged into JLR.
Lyft is an on-demand transportation service with headquarters in San Francisco California. It has its own transportation mobile app. The service launched in 2012 and now operates in 300 US cities and expanded into Canada last year. It provides over one million rides a day.
JLR has invested $25 million in Lyft to support the company's autonomous and connected vehicle research. JLR will test Lyft's platform on JLR's vehicles. Waymo also has a separate partnership with Lyft.
Recent fatal crash in Arizona causing some concern
There was a recent fatal crash involving an Uber autonomous vehicle in Tempe Arizona. The car had a safety driver. Uber temporarily halted its driver testing program. The governor of Arizona suspended the company from further testing in the state. The Tempe police and US National Transportation Safety board are both investigating the incident.
Waymo continues on with its projects undeterred by concerns some other companies such as Toyota have had. Toyota has paused its self-driving tests. However, Waymo is continuing as it tries to become a leader in the field and take advantage of what is likely to be a very lucrative market.


Published previously in Digital Journal

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