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. 1-25
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.