Waymo found inspiration in airports for its Arizona self-driving car hub

waymo arizona self driving car hub operations explained maintenance chandler

With frequent delays and long security lines, the average airport may not seem like a model of efficiency. But that was where Waymo looked for a model when it started setting up an autonomous-vehicle testing hub in Chandler, Arizona, according to Automotive News.

Waymo examined how airlines turn around jets between flights, Rikard Grunnan, the company’s head of technical fleet operations, told Automotive News. Findings were applied to Waymo’s Phoenix hub, which is now home base to over 400 autonomous test vehicles. The fleet, consisting of modified Chrysler Pacifica minivans, is used for testing on public roads in the Phoenix metropolitan area. They also give rides to the public through the Waymo One ridesharing service.

Since November 2017, Waymo has partnered with dealership chain AutoNation on the maintenance of its minivans. AutoNation started out doing relatively simple tasks like oil changes and warranty repairs, but now does heavier maintenance work for Waymo, according to Automotive News. The two companies are also sharing data to find out, for example, which parts break first over the 250,000-mile lifespan Waymo is targeting for its vehicles. AutoNation will provide similar services for the Jaguar I-Pace once that model enters Waymo’s ridesharing fleet, Automotive News reports.

Ridesharing services present a threat to car dealerships because they lessen the need to own a car. That makes the partnership with Waymo a valuable tool for AutoNation. The company’s existing network of service centers could support a future fleet of self-driving cars. That level of infrastructure will be needed to keep a fleet of autonomous ride-share vehicles on the road, Waymo’s Grunnan told Automotive News.

Waymo is slowly expanding from a testing program to a full-scale commercial ride-sharing service. The company plans to open an 85,000-square-foot technical operations center in Mesa, Arizona, on the opposite side of the Phoenix metropolitan area from its current maintenance hub, which is located in Chandler. Waymo also has plans for a Detroit “factory” that will outfit cars with autonomous-driving hardware.

Maintenance may not be very glamorous, but it will likely be as important to taking self-driving cars mainstream as the technology itself. Instead of selling them to individual owners, most companies are expected to deploy autonomous cars in fleets for delivery or ridesharing services — like Waymo’s. That means companies will need to maintain large fleets of vehicles to ensure a car is ready whenever a customer wants to go somewhere. Like the airport.

Cars

This 717-horsepower Dodge Charger is the ultimate family sedan

The Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat gets a 10-horsepower boost, but only for a limited-edition model. The special Charger commemorates the 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona -- one of the wildest American muscle cars.
Cars

2020 Honda Civic hatchback keeps the manual-transmission faith

The 2020 Honda Civic hatchback was treated to a subtle exterior facelift. Honda also expanded the availability of both the manual transmission and 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system.
Cars

2019 Audi E-Tron is the first electric car to earn top IIHS safety rating

The 2019 Audi E-Tron is the first electric car to earn an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ rating. But the IIHS hasn't tested the Audi's two main rivals -- the Jaguar I-Pace and Tesla Model X.
News

UPS partners with TuSimple to test self-driving semi-trucks

UPS has been carrying truckloads of goods in self-driving semi-trucks since May. The vehicles are being tested in Arizona routes between Phoenix and Tucson for better service and efficiency for UPS delivery.
Cars

Vintage Electric readies the Roadster Speed Merchant, a souped-up ebike

Vintage Electric introduced the latest in its line of retro-styled premium performance ebikes for fall 2019. The Vintage Roadster gets styling cues from board track racing motorcycles and its power from a 1,123-watt battery.
Cars

Bored with stock? The best tuner cars are begging to be modified

Modification has been around almost as long as the automobile itself. Here are some of the best tuner cars you can find, ranging from American muscle standouts to Japanese drift cars.
Cars

Infiniti’s Formula One-inspired Project Black S may enter production

The Infiniti Project Black S is a Q60 luxury coupe enhanced with a Formula One-inspired hybrid powertrain. The 563-horsepower car can sprint from zero to 62 mph in under four seconds, according to Infiniti.
Cars

Toyota raises the curtain on 2020 Corolla Nightshade Editions

The 2020 Toyota Corolla SE sedan and hatchback with a CVT (continuously variable transmission) will be available in Nightshade Editions, joining the Toyota 4Runner, Camry, Highlander, and Sienna with the blacked-out trim style option.
Cars

Here’s why your Uber or Lyft car always seems to be a Toyota Camry

The Toyota Camry is one of the most popular cars sold in the United States, and not just with retail buyers. Uber and Lyft drivers love the Camry for its reliability, according to a new report.
Cars

The electric Volkswagen ID Buggy makes even Ferrari drivers stop and stare

Volkswagen traveled to the 2019 Geneva Auto Show to introduce an electric dune buggy named ID Buggy, and Digital Trends drove it in California. It's a modern-day tribute to the 1960s Meyers Manx.
Cars

Infiniti will take on BMW and Mercedes-Benz with its own crossover coupe

Launching in 2020, the Infiniti QX55 will be a crossover coupe similar to models that have proven successful for BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Infiniti said the QX55 will have styling influenced by its early 2000s FX.
Cars

Limited-edition Subaru BRZ tS returns for 2020, WRX and STI get minor tweaks

Subaru performance cars remain mostly unchanged for the 2020 model year. The big news is the return of the limited-edition Subaru BRZ tS sports car, with production capped at 300 units.
Cars

The Bugatti Centodieci is only possible because of the latest design tech

Bugatti is celebrating its 110th birthday by releasing a limited-edition hypercar named Centodieci. It's based on the Chiron, but its engine makes 1,600 horsepower, and it's a tribute to the EB110 released during the 1990s.
Cars

Discover the engineering Easter eggs in the new 2020 Ford Explorer

The 2020 Ford Explorer received a ground-up overhaul, with major changes that include a new hybrid powertrain option. But even the engineering details of the new Explorer are worth checking out.