Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Waymo partners with China’s Zeekr EV brand for all-electric robotaxi

Over a decade into their journey building the World’s Most Experienced Driver, Alphabet subsidiary Waymo partnered with some of the world’s leading automakers to deploy its fully autonomous technology. In October last year, the company opened up its fully driverless taxi service to the public in Phoenix, Arizona, making it the first commercial service in the world to operate without safety backup drivers at the wheel.

Now, Waymo has announced the collaboration with Geely, a top global auto manufacturer, on the development of a new pure electric vehicle for deployment in the Waymo One autonomous ride-hailing fleet in the United States. The company will integrate its Waymo Driver into a version of the new mobility-focused, all-electric Zeekr vehicle, designed in Sweden specially for autonomous ride-hailing.

The new Zeekr vehicle has been designed for autonomous use-cases and will come with a fully configurable cabin, both with and without driver controls, that can be tailored towards rider requirements for the Waymo One unmanned ride-hailing fleet in the US.

Waymo's new all-electric autonomous vehicle ditches the steering wheel completely.
Waymo’s new all-electric autonomous vehicle ditches the steering wheel completely. Credit: Waymo

Over the years to come, Waymo will integrate its Waymo Driver into the transportation-as-a-service (TaaS)-optimized Zeekr vehicle designed to prioritize the comfort, convenience, and preferences of Waymo One riders. This rider-first vehicle features a flat floor for more accessible entry, easy ingress, and egress thanks to a B-pillarless design, low step-in height, generous head and legroom, and fully adjustable seats.

The company says its Waymo One riders will one day experience an interior without steering wheel and pedals, and with plenty of headroom, legroom, and reclining seats, screens and chargers within arm’s reach, and an easy to configure and comfortable vehicle cabin.

Waymo will begin to introduce these all-electric, rider-first, fully autonomous vehicles on U.S. roads within Waymo One fleet in the years to come.