Waymo, formerly known as the Google Self-Driving Car Project, is collaborating with Jaguar Land Rover in a major expansion of its autonomous-drive ride-hailing program.
The mobility company has signed a deal to buy 20,000 Jaguar I-Pace all-electric SUVs. Those vehicles will be modified with radar, LiDar sensors and cameras so they can operate in Waymo's self-driving ride-hailing fleet.
"Its big, fast-charge battery means it can drive all day, which is perfect for our self-driving service," said John Krafcik, chief executive officer of Waymo.
Waymo plans to launch its autonomous-drive ride hailing service later this year. It's currently testing its self-driving technology at locations around the United States including suburban Phoenix using modified Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans. Those vans will make up the initial fleet in Waymo's ride-share program, until the company takes delivery of modified Jaguar I-Pace SUVs in 2020.
"Our passion for further advancing smart mobility needs expert long-term partners. In joining forces with Waymo we are pioneering to push the boundaries of technology," said Ralf Speth, Jaguar Land Rover chief executive officer.
Waymo's partnership with Jaguar Land Rover extends through 2026.
Waymo announced the partnership amid new questions about the safety of self-driving vehicles following the death of a pedestrian struck and killed by an Uber test vehicle in autonomous mode. Krafcik said Waymo's test vehicle would have stopped before hitting the woman if it had faced the same situation.