Waymo, the self driving spin-off from Google, has ordered 20,000 self-driving versions of the Jaguar I-PACE electric SUV, to be delivered over the next two years. The first three cars — minus the proprietary autonomous driving technology that sits like a lighthouse on top of its self-driving Pacifica Hybrid minivans — have now arrived in San Francisco, where they will be used to create detailed driving maps of the city and explore the durability and maintenance history for the cars. The Jaguars will join Waymo’s fleet of 62,000 self driving Pacifica Hybrids. Together, they will equal one quarter of all the taxis and limousines in America.
The Jaguar I-PACE SUVs are a piece of Waymo’s larger plan to build a self-driving system to be used in ride-hailing, delivery, and logistics such as trucking; connecting rides with public transit; and licensing the technology with automakers for personally owned vehicles, according to TechCrunch. Waymo and Jaguar engineers will work together to incorporate the self-driving technology into the I-PACE during the manufacturing process rather than retrofitting it as is done with the Pacifica Hybrid vehicles, reports The Verge. The self-driving Jaguars will presumably offer riders a premium experience at a premium price — the I-PACE is one sweet ride, based on my experience with the car in Portugal last month.
Like Uber, Lyft, and about a dozen other companies, Waymo is intent on creating an all-encompassing ride sharing and autonomous driving system that will meet the needs of virtually all drivers. In addition to vans and SUVs, it is also testing self-driving trucks in Atlanta. People in Phoenix can take advantage of the company’s self-driving shuttle service in most sections of the city today.
The relationship between all these self-driving companies is becoming downright incestuous. Jaguar Land Rover invested $25 million in Lyft last summer. Lyft and Waymo will be direct competitors in the near future. In addition, Waymo has its own deal with Lyft, but may be getting ready to crawl into bed with Uber, the company it sued for $1 billion last year. As a result of that suit, Waymo now has a $245 million stake in Uber.
Apparently, these companies plan to make so much money in ride-hailing/car-sharing/mobility services, they are all hedging their bets as they wait to see whose technology will ultimately become the industry standard. But Waymo, which expects to have 82,000 self-driving vehicles in revenue service two years from now, seems to be the elephant in the room at the present time.
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