The Waymo and Geely driverless car. [credit:
Waymo is now running a robotaxi service in two states, but the vehicles for those services are retrofitted commercial cars. The company rolls around in either the “4th-gen” Waymo vehicles, built on the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, or the “5th gen” driver, built on the Jaguar I-Pace. That’s all great for enabling Waymo’s service to get up and running, but these vehicles, which are full of controls and dials for human drivers, are driven by a robot that, in the long term, doesn’t actually need a steering wheel or pedals.
So, for the second time now, Waymo is doing a ground-up design of a driverless vehicle, without any of those useless, legacy human controls. The car was originally announced in December, but today Waymo is showing off a bit more detail about the vehicle. Real-life models are actually being built now, with Waymo showing off the car at an LA press event and a camouflaged, sensorless, human-driven test mule recently hitting a test track.
The car is being built with Geely Group’s Zeekr brand and designed as an all-electric “transportation-as-a-service (TaaS)-optimized” vehicle. The car has no steering wheel, pedals, or mirrors, and four automated sliding doors open up like it’s some kind of road-going subway train. Inside, the minivan seats five people, including two in the front, where the dashboard contains nothing but a centrally mounted touchscreen. There are also two seat-back touchscreens for the back seats, where you can play music, pick a destination, or see what the car is currently thinking.
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