Waymo, one of the leaders in autonomous driving technology, has recently struck a deal with Fiat Chrysler (FCA) to significantly enlarge its fleet of vehicles.
This deal enlarges Waymos current fleet of 600 hybrid Pacifica minivans to a fleet of 62,000 minivans with deliveries starting towards the end of 2018. The deal also is the beginnings of early discussions to bring Waymo’s technology into FCA’s cars for sale.
Waymo is currently the only company to have self-driving cars on public roads with no one in the driver’s seat. Waymo has self-driven more that 6 million miles on public roads, giving it the highest total of any other company thus far. Waymo hopes to launch its fully driverless taxi service in Arizona later this year and this new enlargement of the fleet hopefully means that the service will spread to other states.
Along with these Pacifica minivans, Waymo announced a partnership with Jaguar Land Rover in March to add 20,000 of Jaguar’s all new electric I-Pace to its fleet. The first prototypes will hit the road later this year and will then be added to its ride-hailing service in 2020.
Waymo will have to deal with degrading public opinions towards autonomous driving after the recent fatal crash involving a self-driving Uber vehicle, along with the fact that every time there is a Tesla crash it tends to make headlines. It’s a precarious time for companies like Waymo and they need to be absolutely certain of their systems before continuing to enlarge their fleets.
Source: The Verge