Waymo Orders 20,000 Electric Jaguar SUVs for Driverless Fleet

One day after Arizona’s governor suspended Uber’s autonomous vehicle testing, Waymo announced a billion dollar deal.

As Uber Technologies Inc. reels from a fatal crash involving one of its autonomous vehicles, rival Waymo is moving ahead, buying as many as 20,000 Jaguar vehicles for its robot fleet.

The deal, announced Tuesday, is potentially worth more than $1 billion, and escalates Waymo’s effort to put vehicles on public roads without human drivers behind the wheel.

Waymo will add its driverless technology to the new Jaguar I-Pace all-electric sport-utility vehicle and it said it would begin testing this year before deploying the SUVs in 2020. The companies said as many as 20,000 of the SUVs will be built in the first two years, and more vehicles could be purchased after that.

On Monday, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, who has been welcoming of driverless technology in the state, sent a letter to Uber’s CEO saying he would suspend the company’s testing after “an unquestionable failure” to comply with expectations of public safety.

Waymo’s chief executive, John Krafcik, has expressed confidence in the aftermath of the crash, telling car dealers at a convention in Las Vegas on Saturday his company’s technology would have avoided hitting the pedestrian. Uber, in response to those remarks, said, “Safety is our primary concern every step of the way.”

Waymo says a fleet of 20,000 Jaguars could serve a million trips a day. A fleet about that size has the potential to service a small to midsize community, according to research conducted by Larry Burns, who has consulted for Waymo and worked at General Motors as head of research and development.

In a 2013 study with Columbia University’s Earth Institute, his team focused on Ann Arbor, Mich., a community of about 285,000 at the time, and calculated that a fleet of about 18,000 driverless cars could handle the needs of 120,000 customers who drive less than 70 miles a day.

The Show Goes On

I see no reason to not believe Waymo about its technology. Uber got caught testing systems that were not ready. That decision will put it further behind Waymo.

A 2020 time frame for Waymo's fleet still seems reasonable. Yet, many of my readers still insist this technology is decades away.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (34)
No. 1-34
AWC
AWC

Back to Motor Trend? Car of the Year Award? Based on the most pedestrian strikes in a year? Maybe fit 'em with rubber bumpers, and slow 'em down to 5 mph so it doesn't hurt as much? We could just put rotors on 'em so they will fly above all the hazards they can't seem to detect on the ground. "Watch out for them trees."

Jojo
Jojo

Why expensive Jaguar's as opposed to say Buick's or Mazda's or Toyota's? I would guess that they are going to push safety and quality from a marquee name off the blocks.

AWC
AWC

Car was in the shop, so we rented one. A Corolla, with all the bells and whistles. Driving on open desert hiway, so just set the cruise for the 75 speed limit, and sat looking out the windows for an hour or two. Got into Tucson, so had to slow it to the 65 limit. I was in the right hand lane approaching an off ramp, when I noticed in the mirror a car coming up on my left with his right signal on, so I figured he may be going to pull in front of me to make the exit. No problem, because he was going faster than me. There was a truck on my ass, so the car obviously couldn't have gotten into the right lane behind me to exit. Sure enough, he swung across my lane, out 3 or 4 car lengths to exit. As I said, not a problem, because he was traveling at a higher speed than I was. Well, the damned rental car jammed on the brakes, nearly causing the truck behind to hit me. Wife looked at me like I was crazy, well, maybe so, but not in this instance. I pulled off at the next exit, took the owners manual out of the glove box and figured out how to disable the cars brain from interfering with my driving. Sorry, when I drive a car, or ride a motorcycle, I'll do the thinking, not Intel. Thanks anyway.

AWC
AWC

Anyone out there ever have a hard drive crash? Or had Windows freeze up? Well, be happy it didn't happen going into an intersection against a red light.

CautiousObserver
CautiousObserver

Jojo: “Why expensive Jaguar's as opposed to say Buick's or Mazda's or Toyota's?”

Recall that Jaguar Land Rover today is a subsidiary of Tata Motors. With an order that size, I expect Waymo is getting a great price on a per unit basis, and struggling Tata Motors gets a flashy way to promote their most successful brand.

@AWC: That’s an awful safety hazard. Someone needs to let the rental car’s maker know they have a major issue with the design of their collision avoidance system.

AWC
AWC

@Cautious, I let them know, and they said the function was supposed to be reset to "off," after the last renter turned in the car. It wasn't. Lesson learned.

AWC
AWC

For these reasons, you will never see me boarding an airliner either, when this "driver less" nonsense works it's way into that sector. Or riding a driver less motorcycle. ;) ps. No ABS on M/C's either. I've found that the ABS system can't detect road conditions, ie; sandy spots, moss, frost, chuck holes. Prefer to do my front to rear braking, based on my own judgement of the road ahead.

abend237-04
abend237-04

Excellent description of a near-perfect accident setup, and an obvious product improvement opportunity for Toyota. The AV code should have prioritized getting the truck off your ass by hysterically cycling your brakes lights, after seeing the turn signals on the car approaching from your left rear. Finding the truck driver asleep/texting/whatever, AV code should have turned on your left turn signal and moved you into the left lane vacated by the equally-inattentive and incompetent driver trying to shoehorn himself into a non-existent safe turn scenario. All doable, but time and resource consuming.

CautiousObserver
CautiousObserver

I also have had problems with the traction control and ABS commonly installed on new cars. I have a late model vehicle I drive daily that has traction control and although it works well under certain conditions, other times it is wholly unacceptable. In slick conditions it takes away driver throttle control while applying brake to wheels selectively to prevent slippage, causing the vehicle to go slower and slower to an extent it will become completely stranded on an slick uphill slope, even when a little momentum would have pushed the vehicle through just fine.

The control does have a button to turn the system “OFF,” but that feature is inexplicably disabled when the tire pressure monitor is tripped, such as would occur when one is intentionally running tire pressure a little low to improve traction, or when one has snow tires without a TPS module installed. I have to wonder what inexperienced person designs this stuff.

AWC
AWC

@abend, yes, there are myriad scenarios to be accounted for, including "black swans" nobody could ever anticipate. I've driven more miles than I can count, from commercial truck to car and in between, in my life, and still encounter the absolutely unexpected now and then.

AWC
AWC

@ cautious, agree, and if you want an adventure, mix electric trailer brakes with ABS truck brakes.

abend237-04
abend237-04

CautiousObserver, I spent 36 winters driving on Colorado roads and never met an ABS I liked. I once researched the accident stats on non-ABS versus ABS braking systems and, lo and behold, they are statistically identical. I interpret this to mean that the ostensible advantage(s) of ABS are offset by depriving attentive, capable drivers of the braking and maneuvering options normally available to them in a crisis, such as: Hitting the brakes HARD just beyond that approaching sheet of black ice, and just before the drifted snow...

KidHorn
KidHorn

As many as 20,000. Which could end up being 25.

KidHorn
KidHorn

"Waymo says a fleet of 20,000 Jaguars could serve a million trips a day."

KidHorn
KidHorn

Another hyperbole. How many taxis fleets average 50 trips/day?

SleemoG
SleemoG

No hyperbole. Waymo is quoting capacity, not actual ridership, though when prices fall enough ridership may reach 50 vehicle-trips/day.

KidHorn
KidHorn

The math does not work. 50 trips/day means 25 minutes per trip on average, 24 hours a day. Not going to happen.

Snow_Dog
Snow_Dog

“I see no reason to not believe Waymo about its technology. Uber got caught testing systems that were not ready.”

I see no reason to think government will able enforce AVs any better than they defended the taxi medallion system against Uber. When 5,000 AV show up all at once what is going to stop them? A cop pulling one or two over (if they can) will be meaningless.

CautiousObserver
CautiousObserver

There will be government requirements that autonomous vehicles must respond to official remote commands. Remember the movie Minority Report? Hacking aside, one cop will be able to pull over 5,000 AV’s and simultaneously trap the occupants inside if need be.

SleemoG
SleemoG

Got it. Would 500,000 trips per day be any less impressive? That number is possible.

vboring
vboring

So much moaning in the comments. People will complain a lot less when they realize how much AVs are going to improve their lives. Cheaper, faster delivery of everything means you can order from the good pizza place 15 miles away instead of settling for the ok one 5 miles away. Cheaper rides home mean you can drink more and still get home safe. Never leave a car at the airport again. Point to point delivery of anything to anywhere for about 1/3 of what it costs today.

vboring
vboring

Every technology has trade-offs. Modern cell phones have completely unacceptable audio quality and cost 3x as much as a landline. If getting pizza delivered from the right place means that someday some autonomous vehicle might get stuck in the snow - well, I can live with that.

themonosynaptic
themonosynaptic

@kidhorn: "The math does not work. 50 trips/day means 25 minutes per trip on average, 24 hours a day. Not going to happen."

I did the same calculation and agree. One earlier commentor pointed out that this was capacity, not actual trips, but perhaps we are thinking of this the wrong way.

Firstly, let's lower the active day to 16-17 hours, so we are looking at about 3 trips per hour per vehicle. If the use of vehicles changes and we have our groceries delivered; send our pets by themselves to the vet or a dog walker; have our old people get out a lot more because they are not trapped at home; and let our kids hop a ride anywhere, etc., then a lot of short trips that currently are not viable or too much of a pain for an adult driver to carry out become feasible and the average activity could well be 10-15 minutes active time with 5-10 minutes "between ride" times for a well run system in a built up area.

Kinuachdrach
Kinuachdrach

I for one would be more impressed if Waymo was ordering vehicles built by US workers. Don't care who owns the factory -- Brits, Indians, Chinese, whatever -- as long as US workers get a chance to get off Welfare and have the dignity of an honest job.

Kinuachdrach
Kinuachdrach

Really interested to know how the automatic arm in the Brit car is going to work, going through the drive-through at that better pizza place 15 miles away. Maybe the Indians could use that arm the Canadians built for the International Space Station? No problem with Canadian parts, as long as there is a US component. Now let's talk about the sauce on that pizza!

mike09
mike09

It looks like Uber's car crash was because of greed. They had 1 lidar sensor instead of multiple lidar sensors

Rdog17
Rdog17

This is absolute genius... everyone else is trying to do this with teeny tiny or regular cars. Who wouldn't want to ride around in a Jag!!

ReadyKilowatt
ReadyKilowatt

You need a new cell phone...
https://www.wired.com/2013/04/how-hd-voice-works-to-make-your-calls-clearer/
And a new plan too. My plan is $60/month unlimited calling in any of a dozen or so countries that I'll probably never visit. And I get to leave the house to make those calls. Your tired old wireline phone is slowly degrading and if you're a Verizon wireline customer, soon to be replaced by a 5G modem attached to the side of your house.

Guinny_Ire
Guinny_Ire

The technology is here today. It's the working technology that is perhaps decades away. One true employment growth field of the future will be the support and attack of minute social technological supporting infrastructure (just worn out trying to come up with that). As our society dreams of of a utopia where robots service us poolside, others, elsewhere, and within, will be attempting to tear it down for a multitude of reasons (and my mom thought reading Phillip Jose Farmer would never pay off). It's all very exciting and Mike I'm sure we'll get to see some of it. But do we get to be around long enough to see the ensuing destruction that comes with it. These are large waves coming and they change the face of the beach with each sweep. Sometimes though you get Fukishima and not the plethora of new shells you were hoping for.

Kinuachdrach
Kinuachdrach

I tried (unsuccessfully) to find the Indians' planned production rate for the battery-powered Jaguar. Does 20,000 vehicles represent a high percentage of the total production in the first 2 years? (i.e. are the Bri-Indians finding a tough market for this vehicle?)

Kinuachdrach
Kinuachdrach

I failed to find any credible data -- but did keep coming across one word ... "subsidy". Seems that the few guys left in the US who still have jobs and pay taxes are going to be supporting those Polish workers assembling Indian parts in England. Are subsidies the explanation for the focus on the marginal benefits of autonomous automobiles instead of the appreciable benefits of autonomous inter-city trucking?

whirlaway
whirlaway

The math does not have to work for Mish. His hatred for the average working American (and even more if they are organized) can overcome all mathematical hurdles!