Google parent company Alphabet and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles have announced that the Uber-rivalling ride-hailing service Waymo will commence public service later this year.
It’ll be the first ride-hailing service offered to the public to use driverless vehicles on public roads upon launch, using a fleet of over 62,000 Chrysler Pacifica MPVs across the Waymo service.
Later, driverless FCA cars may be sold privately to retail customers with the Waymo self-driving technology, although FCA’s talks with Waymo are only just under way. FCA CTO Harald Webster also revealed the giant's plans to work with BMW on upcoming autonomous tech: "We will work with BMW on level three autonomy to develop an AD platform. We will share resources including data for validation and reliability testing, and we’ll share all underlying investments."
“We're excited to deepen our relationship with FCA that will support the launch of our driverless service, and explore future products that support Waymo's mission,” said Waymo CEO John Krafcik, “Waymo's goal from day one has been to build the world’s most experienced driver and give people access to self-driving technology that will make our roads safer.”
FCA boss Sergio Marchionne said: “The announcement and our discussions to offer one of the first fully autonomous solutions in the market are reflective of our approach in this space - to work with partners to develop the technology.”
“FCA is committed to bringing self-driving technology to our customers in a manner that is safe, efficient and realistic. Strategic partnerships, such as the one we have with Waymo, will help to drive innovative technology to the forefront.” In the later question and answer session of the day, Marchionne revealed: "Our objective is to be the first people to licence this technology and make it commercially available."
This would be a large leap forward for FCA, as rival manufacturers partner with various autonomous tech companies - Hyundai and Volkswagen Group partnering with Aurora, Volkswagen’s fledgling dalliance with Apple, and BMW Group’s Mobileye and Intel partnership. Jaguar is also to partner with Waymo, starting with Waymo-equipped I-Pace EVs.
It’s believed that the manufacturer, which is yet to introduce a hybrid into its UK lineup, is preparing a range of performance hybrids to sit atop its portfolio, as well as introducing mild hybrids across the Jeep range by 2020. Its first EV is believed to be coming in 2020, a production version of the Maserati Alfieri concept.