Reports out of Japan on Tuesday, February 5, suggest Waymo is prepping a partnership with the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi alliance to develop driverless taxis and other services connected with the technology.
The companies are in the final stages of discussions regarding the partnership, with an announcement expected in the spring, the Nikkei Asian Review reported.
Born out of Google’s driverless-car program, which launched in 2009, Waymo has already inked deals with major automakers such as Fiat Chrysler and Jaguar Land Rover in a bid to drive its ambitions forward.
In its report, the Asian Review notes how the global reach of the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi alliance could help those involved to take self-driving technologies to many more markets over time.
Progress has been steady for Mountain View, California-based Waymo. In 2018, for example, it announced it had clocked up 10 million miles of testing on public roads and was covering on average 25,000 miles a day with its autonomous vehicles.
Signaling its intention to massively expand its fleet, the company last year revealed plans to purchase more than 60,000 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans — adding to its current fleet of 600 Pacificas — as well as a deal to purchase up to 20,000 Jaguar I-Pace electric SUVs, for its autonomous-vehicle projects.
Waymo scored a big win at the end of 2018, too, when it launched a driverless taxi service in and around Phoenix, Arizona, becoming the first company in the U.S. to charge for rides in such vehicles. Called Waymo One, the service is similar in many ways to ridesharing outfits like Uber in that you use a specially designed smartphone app to request rides and manage your account.
As for Nissan, it’s also been testing a robo-taxi service that it hopes to have ready in time for the Tokyo Olympics in the summer of 2020. It’s also had fun showing off its autonomous technology with self-driving chairs, and even self-parking slippers.
Despite the successes, there have been a few bumps in the road for Waymo as it seeks to carry forward its vision of a world where cars drive themselves. For example, in January 2019 reports surfaced of disquiet among some Phoenix residents who were opposed to Waymo testing its autonomous cars there. In some neighborhoods, a handful of residents have even taken to attacking the cars and harassing the occupants. Road safety issues and potential job losses caused by the technology appear to be the main motivation behind the incidents, according to local media reports.
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