The Tata-owned British auto maker and American technology company, which is part of Google's parent company Alphabet, will transform 20,000 I-Pace electric cars into self-driving vehicles that Waymo subscribers will be able to hail from 2020.
Automakers are under pressure to offer vehicles like the I-Pace as a way to offset the sales of thirsty conventional SUVs, helping to keep their corporate average fuel economy below federal limits.
The company started testing its self-driving minivans on public roads in Novi, Michigan in late 2017. Uber was locked in a legal battle with Waymo for months over Uber stealing self-driving trade secrets from Waymo before settling for $245 million in February.
The ride-hailing network will first cover a 100-square-mile area in Phoenix, before expanding up to 600 square miles.
Waymo appears to be moving very quickly with its plans and earlier this month posted a video of Early Riders enjoying (or sleeping through) their first lifts in a self-driving vehicle. "That's the world we're building", the company said. Waymo so far has relied on these little toy cars. The company has racked up the most autonomous test miles on roads, and millions more in simulation. The long-term goal for Waymo remains safety, says Krafcik. However, did slightly deeper, and it's just as beneficial for Waymo as it is for Jaguar.
General Motor's Cruise division has been testing its own fleet of self-driving electric vehicles, while Tesla has been rolling out its Autopilot semi-self-driving technology with real-world owners.
That next step is a sixth autonomous vehicle from Waymo, an electric Jaguar I-Pace, that will go into service later this year. And for Jaguar Land Rover, the arrangement gives it a ready market for the new electric SUV, a key advantage at a time when electric vehicles in the USA still make up a tiny fraction of sales.
It's also significant that the integration of Waymo's sensors and self-driving technology will be built into these I-Paces at the factory in Graz, Austria. Waymo is also playing the long game as it looks to launch a large-scale transportation service using self-driving vehicles.