Waymo and Jaguar have formed a partnership to bring autonomous cars to market in the near future. Speaking in New York City today where the New York auto show will take place this week, Waymo CEO John Krafcik told the press, “While we’ve been focused at Waymo on building the world’s most experienced driver, the team at Jaguar Land Rover has developed an all new battery electric platform that looks to set a new standard in safety, design and capability. We’re sure Waymo riders will enjoy the safe, premium, and delightful experience that the self-driving I-PACE will provide.”
Testing of Jaguar I-Pace vehicles equipped with Waymo’s self-driving systems will begin later this year. Waymo already has a fleet of autonomous Chrysler Pacifica minivans with no human driver on board operating in the Phoenix area. The specially modified Jaguar I-Pace cars will begin testing there later this year. Tests will expand to other as yet unspecified US cities over the next two years. The first fully autonomous Jaguars are expected to go into revenue service in 2020.
Dr. Ralf Speth, Jaguar Land Rover CEO, told the audience in New York, “With the Jaguar I-Pace we have a world beating car that’s captured the imagination of customers around the world. Our passion for further advancing smart mobility needs expert long-term partners. 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.” Speth says his company is already getting strong interest in the I-Pace from interested customers. Jaguar expects to supply up to 20,000 I-Pace vehicles to Waymo over the next few years.
CleanTechnica contributor Benjamin Schulz attended today’s press conference in person and reports that Waymo apparently wants to make its self-driving systems available to car makers in much the same way Apple Car Play and Android Auto are utilized by manufacturers. That means Waymo has abandoned its plans to build an automobile of its own and will focus on being a supplier of autonomous technology to the industry.
That could actually be good news for car companies and the general public. Instead of everyone running around like headless chickens trying to create their own self-driving systems, manufacturers can simply link up with Waymo and get everything they need fully developed and tested. Members of the public won’t have to worry about being run down by a test vehicle that suddenly goes rogue, either. It’s a win/win for everyone.
Waymo has not been plagued with the same issues arch rival Uber has experienced, most notably the recent fatality in Tempe, Arizona when an Uber self-driving car struck and killed a pedestrian earlier this month. Uber’s license to test autonomous cars has now been revoked by the state of Arizona according to USA Today. The ill will created by Uber’s founder and serial jackass Travis Kalanick continues to create turmoil for the company. Today in Brussels, cab drivers are rioting to protest Uber’s presence in that city.
Ben Schulz reports that the presentation was quite impressive. “To those of us at the press conference, it feels like this technology could be operational right now in certain environments and the software has reached some maturity giving it an almost physical quality. You can almost feel its power. German car makers are in trouble,” he says.
The link-up with Jaguar represents a significant step forward. Waymo has already begun testing self-driving trucks in an effort to broaden the appeal of its technology to the transportation sector. Maybe it will thrive by focusing on what it does best and not trying to become another car manufacturer they way Tesla has. Time will tell which approach will be the most successful.
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