Who knows which companies will be able to provide scaled-up, high-volume robotaxi service profitably? It feels like we’ve come a long way in recent years with Waymo and Cruise now providing limited robotaxi service in certain markets. Of course, they are far from profitability, but each step forward feels momentous. On that note, Waymo has just taken two notable steps forward.
First of all, after a couple of years operating in a small portion of Phoenix (East Valley), Waymo is finally making it downtown. On November 10, Waymo started operating its driverless, commercial services in downtown Phoenix. Earlier this year, Waymo also announced it would start operating paid robotaxi services in San Francisco and Los Angeles soon, too.
Waymo also recently announced that it would start providing paid robotaxi services to and from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
Furthermore, last week, Waymo announced it had developed a whole new mobility platform in collaboration with Geely Group and its subsidiary Zeekr. It is “Designed specifically for fully autonomous ride-hailing,” Waymo writes. Check out a short preview of the new robotaxi:
Designed specifically for fully autonomous ride-hailing.
— Waymo (@Waymo) November 17, 2022
Also, see these preview pics:
Up to now, Waymo has been using the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid and Jaguar I-PACE for its autonomous robotaxi services. Reportedly, one of these new Waymo vehicles was recently spotted on a test track (in camo).
The new platform from Zeekr that Waymo will use will also be available for other robotaxi services. “Good news for global riders who prefer a safe, effortless and relaxing way to move — future driverless mobility products are now possible as Geely Holding Group’s premium electric mobility brand ZEEKR on Wednesday debuted SEA-M architecture,” Geely writes. “Vehicles can become a place to entertain friends, a movable office for meetings, a room for kids to study in, or a relaxing lounge to kick back and catch some ZZZ. Users just need to take a step inside and relax on the go. […]
“The SEA-M architecture is a high-tech mobility solution from ZEEKR refined from the original Sustainable Experience Architecture (SEA) to support a range of future mobility products including robotaxis, multi-purpose vehicles, and logistics vehicles, laying a solid and flexible foundation for global autonomous driving technology or ride-sharing companies to develop. […]
“In 2021, ZEEKR announced its first customer for vehicles built on the SEA-M platform was autonomous driving technology company Waymo, headquartered in the United States. ZEEKR and Waymo collaborated on the development of a purpose-built TaaS SEA-M variant which will be deployed with in the Waymo One ride-hailing fleet in the coming years. Waymo recently showcased its ZEEKR vehicle integrated with Waymo’s technology at a reveal event in Los Angeles in November.”
As a final item, if you want to learn more about how Waymo operates in different types of weather, see: “What’s in the forecast: Using cutting-edge weather research to advance the Waymo Driver.”
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