UK car manufacturing colossus Jaguar Land Rover and ride-hailing service Waymo owned by US technology giants Google, have announced that they will partner on the development of a new self-driving electric car.
A representative for Jaguar Land Rover said the self-driving car will become part of the ride-hailing services fleet of vehicles and the design of the electric vehicle has been described as 'posh'.
The announcement of the partnership between Jaguar Land Rover and Waymo comes amidst fresh concern over the safety of self-driving technology. Uber has been forced to suspend its self-driving program following the death of a pedestrian in Arizona on March 18th.
Uber's self-driving program was in operation in four US cities - but it has now been suspended pending an investigation by federal authorities into the death of the 49 year-old woman. Jaguar Land Rover and Waymo have revealed that they aim to develop a 'premium self-driving vehicle' which will be based on a new I-PACE model.
The commencement of testing on the I-PACE equipped with Waymo self-driving technology will begin later this year and the primary objective is to make it part of a Waymo driverless transportation service. The companies have forecasted that as many as 20,000 I-PACE vehicles could be built in the first two years of production and made available for a Waymo service that enables consumers to summon autonomous rides.
The ride-hailing firm owned by Google said its partnership with Jaguar Land Rover was the beginning of a new exciting era in on-demand transportation services. The blog post read, "This is just the beginning. The ultimate goal: with Waymo as the driver, products tailored for every purpose and every trip."
Waymo CEO, John Krafcik, stoked the flames of its bitter rivalry with Uber by claiming that the recent death of a pedestrian in an accident which involved an autonomous Uber car would never have happened with his company's technology. He said, "At Waymo, we have a lot of confidence that our technology would be able to handle a situation like that."
The CEO also highlighted the comprehensive testing his Waymo vehicles have underwent revealing that his cars have clocked more than 8 million KM on routers frequented by pedestrians since 2009 - and as of yet has not been involved in one fatal accident.
Waymo is positioning itself to be hitting the accelerator in a race for leadership in autonomous ridesharing, which involves most major automakers, technology developers and services such as Uber and Lyft.