GOOGLE’S AUTONOMOUS car project Waymo has teamed up with Jaguar to develop a self-driving luxury SUV taxi that will become Silicon Valley’s first cab fleet vehicle without a driver.
The venture is hoping to leapfrog Tesla and Uber and Waymo CEO John Krafcik said they would test the electric I-Pace vehicle later this year and then ramp up production to 20,000 cars a year once any technical issues have been ironed put.
The vehicles will become part of Waymo’s self-driving transportation service, which has been operating since last year as a pilot project in Arizona. Jaguar is dedicated to safety, have a crack engineering team and share our vision where roads are safe and transportation is available to all.
Jaguar CEO Ralf Speth said: “The autonomous I-Pace will be the world’s first fully self-driving SUV and as such, is a game changer. Moving the boundaries of technology can no longer be done by a single company anymore, so you look for partners who share the same dreams.”
Auto expert Karl Brauer said the deal between Waymo and Jaguar could see it in front of Uber after one of its vehicles was involved in a fatal accident with a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the accident and governor Doug Ducey has suspended Uber’s self-drive test licence.
Toyota and NuTonomy have also announced a suspension of their self-drive taxi trials and Brauer added: “This joint venture between Waymo and Jaguar will help them to catch up with other companies like Tesla and Audi. Do we see a point in time when car companies that don’t want to do it themselves, go to Google (Waymo) and say, ‘We’re about to design a new car and want you to do the self-driving component?’ Almost certainly.”
Krafcik added: “The I-Pace’s long-range battery potential, capable of driving 240 miles between charges, makes it an ideal fit for an autonomous taxi service. And combined with our self-driving technology, will provide a safe and delightful experience.”