Waymo, a subsidiary of the Alphabet group, asks Chinese automaker Geely to expand its future fleet of robot taxis. The two companies will announce a partnership on December 29 where they will develop a variant of Geely’s Zeekr electric vehicle that will be specifically designed for Waymo One on-demand mobility services.
A shuttle without steering wheel or pedals
The Zeekr, whose design was carried out in Sweden (Geely owns the Volvo Cars brand), has no steering wheel or pedals, the classic driving position being replaced by a simple tablet from which passengers can choose their destination a priori, possible entertainment (music, movie) and paying for the trip. The floor is perfectly flat and the seats are retractable for easy access and maximum comfort.
The picture is obviously completed by the Waymo autonomous driving technology, of which we can see the latest generation of Lidar on the roof, but which also includes several other sensors, as well as the electronics and the driving management software.
An implementation schedule still unclear
Currently, Waymo’s fleet consists primarily of modified Jaguar I-Paces and Chrysler Pacifica. They use hybrid engines (combustion and electric). Geely’s fully electric shuttles will be added to these models “in the coming years,” according to Waymo. The company does not specify the hours more than that.
While among the most advanced companies in commercial robot taxi deployment, Waymo has had its share of setbacks over the years and has failed to scale as quickly as advertised.
Julien Bergounhoux @JBergounhoux
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