Waymo and Jaguar Land Rover are teaming up to deploy a seriously impressive fleet of self-driving vehicles. Jaguar’s first all-electric vehicle, the I-PACE, will have 20,000 units automated with Waymo’s driverless transportation service in the near future. They’re looking to expand further across the country and the new fleet would be able to complete one million trips every day.
The announcement brings a premium vehicle in Waymo’s lineup. At the moment, the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans are replacing Lexus RX crossovers. 600 modified minivans hit public roads last year for testing in Arizona, and the manufacturer plans to deliver “thousands” more at the end of 2018.
Jaguar’s new electric I-PACE was unveiled at the International Geneva Motor Show earlier in March. Automated driving was not a focus at the time, but other features in the battery electric vehicle included a range of 240 miles and traditional chargers (such as a 50-kilowatt rapid charger) can bring it from 0% to 80% in 85 minutes.
“This is a sleek and graceful car, so it will provide a safe and delightful experience for our passengers,” Waymo’s team said in a post detailing the announcement on Medium. “Its size makes it ideal for city driving. Its big, fast-charge battery means it can drive all day, which is perfect for our self-driving service.”
Ever since Waymo shifted their focus to adapting their software to existing vehicles, they have a goal to dominate the driverless ride-hailing market. Uber’s self-driving tests in Arizona were halted after a fatal accident, but that doesn’t seem to be slowing Waymo down. Chrysler Pacifica minivans have been tested in 25 cities, including Atlanta, Detroit, and San Francisco.
With the addition of a premium vehicle, Waymo is showing that their service can satisfy anybody’s needs. On their blog post, the team says that riders will have “a broad array of options,” and gives examples of different vehicles satisfying transportation for family events, going out to dinner, and people who work remotely.
There’s clearly a focus on delivering a ride-sharing service instead of equipping these modified minivans and SUVs for personal use. According to Electrek, Waymo CEO John Krafcik is still considering implementing this in the future. For now, they’re focused on launching the first commercial service in Phoenix, Arizona, later this year. Jaguar’s new modified I-PACE vehicles should be added to the roster by 2020.
“Our passion for further advancing smart mobility needs expert long-term partners,” Dr. ralf Speth, CEO of Jaguar, said in a press release. “In joining forces with Waymo we are pioneering to push the boundaries of technology. Together we will deliver the self-driving Waymo Jaguar I-PACE with the grace, space and eco-pace that customers expect.”
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