Step Aside Uber And Tesla: Waymo Will Launch The World's First "Self-Driving Transportation Service" This Year

In the race for autonomous driving and "autonomous driving as a service," Google's Waymo is lapping its competitors including Uber and Tesla.

According to media reports,  Waymo is going to be launching 62,000 Chrysler Pacifica minivans, which it will be adding to its fleet in anticipation of launching its self driving transportation service as soon as this year. These minivans will be equipped with the company's autonomous driving software, which puts Waymo ahead of companies like Uber and Tesla, both of which are also working on pushing into the new, burgeoning self-driving industry.

The push to launch these vans comes as a result of a partnership with Chrysler and as the company looks to create an autonomous ride sharing program that can be hailed with an app. The Daily Mail reports:

Google-owned Waymo is adding as many as 62,000 Fiat Chrysler minivans to its autonomous fleet in an expanded collaboration announced by the companies on Thursday. Delivery of the Chrysler Pacifica minivans was expected to begin later this year, with the automaker also exploring the potential to build Waymo technology into a self-driving car it might add to its model line-up for consumers.

'FCA is committed to bringing self-driving technology to our customers in a manner that is safe, efficient and realistic,' chief executive officer Sergio Marchionne said. 'Strategic partnerships, such as the one we have with Waymo, will help to drive innovative technology to the forefront.'

The article then notes that Waymo will likely be the first company, before Uber and Tesla, to launch the first truly self-driving vehicle later this year, and that Uber and Waymo could eventually wind up working together to get Waymo's software into Uber vehicles:

Waymo plans to launch the 'world's first self-driving transportation service' this year, with people able to summon rides from driverless vehicles using a smartphone application. The announcement came a day after Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi reportedly said at a Code technology conference that the company is speaking with Waymo about putting its cars to work at the smartphone-summoned ride service.

Uber early this year negotiated a settlement with Waymo over trade secrets purportedly purloined from the self-driving unit of Google-parent Alphabet. Uber suspended its own autonomous car testing in April after an accident that killed a woman pushing a bicycle in a street in Arizona.

Waymo CEO John Krafcik has publicly contended that the fatal accident involving a self-driving Uber car would not have occurred with his company's technology.

In addition to Waymo working on its partnership with Chrysler, the company is also collaborating with Jaguar Land Rover, which is said to be toying with the idea of launching a higher-end, self-driving electric car service (just in case not everyone wants to be seen being ushered around in a Chrysler Pacifica): 

Fiat and Waymo first announced a self-driving car partnership two years ago, and said that engineers from their companies have been working together since then. Fiat has delivered 600 Pacifica Hybrid minivans to Waymo so far, the companies said. Earlier this year the companies said 'thousands' more would be added.

Waymo and Jaguar Land Rover in March announced they have joined forces on a posh, self-driving electric car tailored for a ride-hailing service run by the Google-owned firm.

...

Waymo and Jaguar said they aim to develop a 'premium self-driving electric vehicle' based on a new I-PACE model.

The news about Waymo's surprising progress comes in the wake of recent disturbing headlines from Tesla and Uber regarding their cars‘ self driving capabilities. Tesla has been dealing with the media fallout from several deadly accidents linked to the the "autopilot", while Uber has reportedly suspended its self-driving tests after a woman was killed in Arizona some months back after being stuck by an autonomous vehicle.

Waymo has so far been luciky to sidestep any bad press and has been silently executing on this partnership and pushing its software forward. 

Meanwhile, the great race to be the first to roll out a truly self-driving vehicles is only accelerating, and just yesterday SoftBank announced that it would make a $2.25 billion investment into General Motors' autonomous driving technology.  On Thursday morning, tech-investing giant SoftBank Vision Fund announced it would invest $2.25 billion in General Motors Co.’s driverless-car unit valuing it at $11.5 billion, creating a new player in the ongoing fierce battle between tech companies and startups to become the first to commercialize autonomous vehicles.

The deal will provide not only a major financial backer - a la what Uber tried to do with Warren Buffett and failed - but will also "afford GM increased flexibility with respect to capital allocation" as it plows more money into developing a network of autonomous ride-share vehicles, targeted for sometime next year, GM said.

Opening the Cruise subsidiary to SoftBank’s giant fund allows it to access capital that investors have been reluctant to grant the 110-year-old auto maker. GM will retain an 80.4% stake in GM Cruise and invest $1.1 billion in the business.

During a press conference Thursday morning, GM Chief Executive Mary Barra called it a “landmark” investment that  gives GM Cruise the capital it needs to get its driverless-car business to market.

With the Softbank investment and the news that Waymo is working with Chrysler and could be working with both Uber and Jaguar, there is no doubt that the race for full autonomous has now officially been put into high gear. 

Comments

mkkby divingengineer Sun, 06/03/2018 - 04:57 Permalink

As with all new tech, idiots will be the early adopters -- paying a high price for a poor product.  Look at the morons with teslas now.  Paying $100k for a $25k car that crashes into fixed barriers and explodes.  The first decade of self drivers will be bug ridden junk, that goes VERY SLOW in any kind of complex situation.  Right now they can't even be trusted to follow their lane on a well marked freeway.

In perhaps 10-20 years smart consumers can start looking at this seriously.  It will still be very expensive compared to regular cars, but the performance might be acceptable.

In 20-30 years it will be in mass production and prices will be comparable to a regular vehicle.  This is when I will consider it.  But only if there have been years of flawless performance, proven by very low insurance rates (or perhaps no need for insurance at all).

 

In reply to by divingengineer

JTBfromtheWL Son of Loki Sat, 06/02/2018 - 17:20 Permalink

When they have data on where/when they need to be for typical operation this will be extremely efficient. You're dumb to think that this isn't going to take over as cheap alternative, sorry to say. Putting 15k miles on your car over the course of 10 years and paying all that insurance is extremely inefficient. Insurance companies are going to be the ones getting the shaft here, and they deserve it too.  Weather your like it or not doesn't matter. Lots of people do like the idea, and it will succeed despite your disbelief. Not more expensive, even going back and forth to work everyday in some cases. Only makes sense.

It's good practice not to resist the inevitable, as long as no1 is getting hurt. 

In reply to by Son of Loki

JTBfromtheWL Blue Dog Sat, 06/02/2018 - 17:28 Permalink

The existing data suggests otherwise, even at this stage. These cars have millions and millions of miles of data. I rather have a bunch of these autonomous cars on roads than drugged out ppl on cellphones that can't drive in the first place.

If you think these cars cause more accidents than actual humans, than you're ignorant as well. Why you spreading fake facts anyways? You lie about safety trying to falsely justify your opinion? Get real. The numbers aren't lying.

These cars don't even use if-than program that you are probably familiar with. They use AI. Data is sent to super computer and it constantly teaches itself how to act based on outcomes of previous similarities.

In reply to by Blue Dog

FireBrander JTBfromtheWL Sat, 06/02/2018 - 18:02 Permalink

Data is sent to super computer and it constantly teaches itself how to act based on outcomes of previous similarities

Write to memory, I turned left and killed someone;  turn right next time.

Strike that, I turned right and killed someone;  turn left next time.

Strike that, go straight.

Oops! Straight = smashing into Concrete barrier.  Backup next time. 

Warning, System error. There is no correct move...KILL ALL HUMANS! KILL ALL HUMANS! 

In reply to by JTBfromtheWL

Jballsquared FireBrander Sat, 06/02/2018 - 19:34 Permalink

I genuinely wonder if you are cognizant or not of the fact that you are to the advanced living Homo sapiens what the Neanderthal was to cro magnon?

if you don’t see that self driving cars are a foregone conclusion at this point, that virtually all urban dwellers and most rural places too will have the vast majority automated vehicles, shit man please don’t breed your genes are fucking useless. 

In reply to by FireBrander

JTBfromtheWL Miggy Sat, 06/02/2018 - 18:27 Permalink

Fine. Still doesn't change the fact that these waymo cars, though many millions of miles of testing, are 90% less likely to get into an accident than the average human. Everyone suggesting it is not safer. FFS, no wonder america is full of dumb-downed cucked sheeple, can't accept reality. No matter how good your driving skills, a random idiot can take you out. Would rather have them in these cars, tyvm. Down vote away cavemen.

In reply to by Miggy

mkkby JTBfromtheWL Sun, 06/03/2018 - 04:42 Permalink

Sure thing, fuck tard.  In actual city conditions they go 15 mph because they can't understand the situation, and that *super* computer has to stop and think.

After 40 years of development, computers still freeze OFTEN, while doing simple tasks like showing a web site.  Software has so many bugs the developers have no idea what will go wrong next.  They have no idea how to safeguard their data from hackers.  If you think computers are infallible then you are relying on TV shows and not real life.

Let's keep these wonderful advances in california, where stupid libtards and snowflakes can pay lots of money to go very slow and crash into barriers.  The DNA there needs a cleaning.

In reply to by JTBfromtheWL

JTBfromtheWL yogibear Sat, 06/02/2018 - 20:40 Permalink

Anyone can mess these selfdrive systems up? So you can hack it yourself? Or are people going to be doing homemade EMP device to mess them up because they are bitter? Why aren't they messing our cars up today, which could just as easily "be messed up" for no good reason, other than being hateful?

Give me a break. There are a million ways to steal something, anything. Stealing these will not be so easy anyway. You think they're just going to order cars to drive into their chopshops endlessly and get away with it? There are cameras everywhere today. Good luck coaxing it into your trailer. Risk / reward is terrible. Stealing something loaded with cameras, internet connection, GPS and monitored 24/7 doesn't seem like a good idea, no matter if you disable it or not. Same with hacking, anything can be hacked. Why haven't terrorist brought down our banking, or our grid, or our internet via hacking? Because it isn't so easy. Because loopholes get fixed. Because hackers get caught. Because the risk/reward sucks.

In reply to by yogibear

JTBfromtheWL manfaded Sat, 06/02/2018 - 18:31 Permalink

Did you even read the article dolt? You're disputing the whole article then? It happening SOON to the tune of 62,000+ vans, exactly what it's about. Every automaker is investing BILLIONS each year...building facilities specifically for this, and it's not happening? Yaa right.

Me thinks you're parroting propaganda designed to keep you dumbed down so you don't look forward critically. 

Drone on, these are not the autonomous cars you are looking for. How has resisting technology worked out for you in the last 30 years? These automatic calculator machines are always making things so difficult, dang it!

In reply to by manfaded

Endgame Napoleon Son of Loki Sun, 06/03/2018 - 08:44 Permalink

It may not be as expensive as a car note and auto insurance, especially for the 50 to 95 million US citizens of working age already out of the workforce, millions more who will be out of the workforce due to various types of automation in the near future and millions of citizens & noncitizens who currently work part time to supplement monthly welfare & refundable child tax credits, retirement checks or spousal income. 

In reply to by Son of Loki

Sudden Debt Rapunzal Sat, 06/02/2018 - 17:32 Permalink

First taxi driver

Then small delivery trucks equiped with drones 

Then large delivery trucks

then international transportation

then clark chauffeurs

then public transport

Anything with wheels will be automated. And that's a lot of jobs.

and the next automatisation will be airplanes.

 

And what when "terrorists" start to weaponise that crap? 

And the US army? When they put a gathling gun on top of it and man those from containers in the nevada dessert?

 

and before you know it, they'll be bribing every politician to force people to give up on their private cars unless they're millionaires.

This only ends in the destruction of millions of jobs.

 

 

In reply to by Rapunzal

Endgame Napoleon Sudden Debt Sun, 06/03/2018 - 09:06 Permalink

Since the jobs that will be lost are male-dominated, I have a solution that is apropos for the era of working moms and a 62% out-of-wedlock birth rate. This will only help the sex-and-reproduction crowd, but hey, they are the only humans who count in the womb-productivity-obsessed USA.

Give custody of kids to displaced, professional drivers who will be underemployed in most cases after self-driving cars are perfected. Give the working dads the free EBT groceries at $450 per month on average, the monthly cash assistance at close to the same amount, the free or subsidized housing, the free electricity, the close-to-free daycare so that the dads can work part-time jobs and the refundable child tax credits up to $6,431.

Since non-working illegal alien moms get welfare because of US-born kids and husbands who work part time, staying below the rock-bottom-low income limits for the programs in single-earner hoiseholds, the sperm-productivity welfare for displaced, male drivers probably would go mostly to citizens. Hardly any of it would go to illegal aliens with productive sperm. Illegal alien males mostly work in construction, self employment and the service sector. A few (2%) work in agriculture. Few progesssional drivers are illegal aliens.

In reply to by Sudden Debt

JTBfromtheWL Rapunzal Sat, 06/02/2018 - 18:00 Permalink

Implications go further than meets the eye. If we can admit these cars will be cheaper and more efficient than everyone owning their own car, then we can actually start talking implications and figuring out wtf all these jobless people are going to do, instead of denying it, which isn't helping.

We probably won't even go to the grocery store soon, but shop online and have our groceries delivered from a warehouse. If it can be done cheaper, it will be. Not paying cashiers, semi-drivers, store aesthetics, parking lot upkeep, dealing with theft are all big savings. Follow the money and you'll see, this is coming like it or not.

In reply to by Rapunzal

Endgame Napoleon JTBfromtheWL Sun, 06/03/2018 - 09:17 Permalink

Unless online retailers find a way to profit without invading privacy so much through their advertising methods, most humans will continue to shop in stores, even with the horrible traffic that just gets worse, the more legal and illegal immigrants are absorbed into the USA to compete with humans for automated jobs. But hey, 99% of those legal & illegal immigrants appear to have kids under 3. So, if they are underemployed due to automation and an oversupply of labor, they do not have to worry about the cost of housing, groceries and other major living expenses. Government pays their major household expenses to reward them for sex and reproduction.

In reply to by JTBfromtheWL