Waymo Expands Their Reach Thanks to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Walmart
Earlier this year it was announced that Waymo – formerly known as Google’s self-driving car project – would be teaming up with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) to further the technology of self-driving cars. That partnership between Waymo and FCA was later expanded upon with Waymo’s purchase of over 62,000 Chrysler Pacifica units to be outfitted with their autonomous driving tech and launched as part of an autonomous ride-hailing service pilot. According to reports, FCA hopes to license Waymo’s technology to be included in future FCA vehicles, although nothing of this sort has been confirmed by the automaker.
In efforts to advance their mission and research, Waymo has reached a new agreement with the hypermarket giant Walmart. The service will allow customers to place orders through walmart.com and use one of Waymo’s autonomous driving Pacifica vans to catch a ride and pick up the order. The targeted group of this pilot program is Waymo’s 400 daily users, who will receive Walmart discounts in exchange for using the service.
Partnerships like this are essential when it comes to making advances in tech. The aim of these ongoing partnerships is to enhance driverless-vehicle capabilities and gauge customers’ feedback. Each and every single ride is a learning opportunity for Waymo – what features of autonomous driving work well and what features don’t, and where there’s room for improvement.
Autonation, Avis, DDR Corp, and the Element Hotel are some of the other partners that will be rolling out their own plans with Waymo in the coming weeks. Autonation will offer rides in a Waymo rather than offering a loaner car while clients have their vehicles serviced. Avis will use Waymo to drop off and pick up rental car customers at two Chandler locations, a suburb of Phoenix where Waymo has been perfecting their technology. DDR Corp is a Chandler, Arizona real estate investment trust that owns shopping centers. It will partner up with Waymo to offer shoppers and diners rides in the self-driving vehicles. Lastly, the Element Hotel (also located in Chandler, Arizona) will use Waymo to offer the vehicles on local trips for its guests. The majority of the cost of these rides will be paid by the companies partnering with Waymo.
As Waymo perfects its automated-driving technology, they expect to roll out these programs nationally in the not-so-distant future. Thanks to its partnership with Chrysler, Waymo has had the opportunity to research their market by figuring out how potential customers will use the service – the most important step to evolve from a research project to a profitable business. It’s expected that the 62,000 Pacifica fleet purchased from FCA will be launched by the end of the year and into 2019.
Follow Hollywood Chrysler Jeep on social media to stay up to date on all news Chrysler. In the meantime, come by and check out our new Chrysler Pacifica inventory and get a glimpse of just how spacious and comfortable riding with Waymo will be. Who knows, perhaps you’ll be so impressed you just might suddenly be in the market for a minivan – a vehicle Chrysler introduced and perfected, so you’ll be sure to be in great hands!