Waymo, the autonomous car development company and subsidiary of Google's parent company, Alphabet Inc. has recently entered into a long-term partnership with Jaguar Land Rover in a deal that will see it buy tens of thousands of vehicles from the UK carmaker and work on future technology together as the Alphabet-owned company prepares to launch a self-driving taxi service later this year.
JLR and Waymo should start testing this year an autonomous version of the I-Pace sports utility vehicle, the carmaker’s first electric model which went on sale this month, and incorporate it into the Waymo fleet from 2020.
Up to 20,000 vehicles will be built for Waymo’s service in the first two years of production, which the companies said could provide 1m trips per day to Waymo customers. The move puts the carmaker, which was perceived as lagging rivals in key technology, at the forefront of the race to develop autonomous vehicles.
Waymo’s announcement comes as the safety of self-driving cars is under scrutiny following the first pedestrian fatality involving a robot vehicle. Earlier this month, an autonomous Uber vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian in a suburb of Phoenix, Arizona — not far from where Waymo’s commercial service will debut in the coming months.
On Saturday, Mr Krafcik told the National Automobile Dealers Association that he had “a lot of confidence that our technology would be able to handle a situation like that”.
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