A little more than a year ago, Waymo surprised the industry and announced that its next big move in the world of autonomous vehicles would be a partnership with Jaguar Land Rover to add the automaker’s new all-electric I-Pace crossover to its fleet of self-driving cars.
Now, it appears self-driving Jaguar I-Pace vehicles are finally being tested on public streets around Waymo’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., TechCrunch has learned. A self-driving Jaguar I-Pace, with a safety driver behind the wheel, was spotted Monday morning. Waymo has confirmed that testing has begun.
Waymo, the former Google self-driving project that spun out to become a business under Alphabet, received its first three I-Paces in July 2018. Those vehicles have been driving around the San Francisco Bay Area collecting road data, but they were not operating in autonomous mode. Waymo plans to roll the I-Pace vehicles into its self-driving ride-hailing fleet in 2020.
The deal between Waymo and JLR is for up to 20,000 modified I-Pace vehicles to join the robotaxi service in the first two years of operation. The partnership is structured similarly to Waymo’s relationship with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which supplied the tech company with its Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans.
Those minivans have become synonymous with Waymo’s testing and its Waymo One ride-hailing service in the suburbs of Phoenix.