If driverless cars are the future, the future may have come another step closer to reality on Tuesday.
Waymo, Google’s self-driving tech spinoff, and Jaguar Land Rover are partnering to build a fleet of 20,000 electric, fully autonomous Jaguar I-PACE vehicles over the next two years for Waymo’s driverless car service, the two companies announced at a press conference in New York City.
Waymo says the four-door Jaguar cars, which are being shown at New York’s International Auto Show this week, will hit the road later this year in Phoenix, Arizona, where it will coincide with the launch of Waymo’s self-driving car service. The service will allow the public to order a car through an app much like Uber or Lyft, except of course the car that arrives won’t have a driver.
“While we’ve been focused at Waymo on building the world’s most experienced driver, the team at Jaguar Land Rover has developed an all-new battery electric platform that looks to set a new standard in safety, design and capability,” said Waymo CEO John Krafcik.
The cars are designed to have a battery life long enough that the car can drive all day without having to recharge. Waymo estimates that the fleet of 20,000 cars could complete a million rides in a single day.
The announcement of Waymo’s plans to launch the fleet in Phoenix comes on the heels of Arizona banning Uber from testing its driverless cars in the state after a pedestrian was killed by one of its vehicles.
When asked about safety at the press conference, given the recent crash involving Uber’s autonomous technology, Krafcik pointed to the extensive experience behind Waymo’s technology, which has driven more than five million miles on public streets in addition to five billion miles in simulations, according to the company.
In 2017, Waymo began accepting members of the public for its early rider program, which used Chrysler Pacifica minivans.