Waymo to Partner with Honda on New Autonomous Delivery Vehicle

Waymo is currently negotiating a deal with Honda that aims to place its self-driving technology within a delivery oriented product with the car maker’s platform. A completely new vehicle constructed from the ground in partnership with a significant OEM that has not been prominent within this space would be new territory, to say the least considering it has always collaborated with firms that have experience or even existing models with self-driving technology.

Source: Automotive News

According to John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo, the public should not expect a traditional vehicle, which implies Waymo is trying to partner in constructing the car from the ground up as opposed to modifying on an existing platform in the same way it has done with Fiat and Jaguar.

Building from Scratch

Apparently, the deal would boost the company’s capacity when it comes to such things as delivery and logistics as opposed to moving people which Waymo had been assumed to focus on. Through the firm has been in talks with the carmaker since 2016, news of upcoming developments came from a Bloomberg article on the Waymo CEO. Krafcik hinted to the media platform a Honda product could be made with Waymo from the ground upwards as opposed to modifying existing products with self-driving sensors.

Source: Engadget

This is what happened with the Chrysler Pacifica minivans as concerns the robo-taxi service in Arizona. Waymo bought these vans from Fiat and outfitted them its suite of autonomous driving technology. General Motors is also working on a similar concept with Cruise Automation; a San Francisco based self-driving company. GM then bought the start-up and is working with the firm to integrate its self-driving technology into a mass-produced model known as the Chevy bolt EV.

Waymo Takes A Second Crack at Autonomous Delivery

This is not entirely new for Waymo though as it had been building up its self-driving trucking service with a plan entailing freight delivery system for Google’s data centers in Atlanta. These trucks are not going to be completely driverless though as they would allegedly be operating on public roads during the pilot. A partnership with Honda for building a brand new model though would rank as one of the most significant deals to the firm as possible. On a skewed yet positive note, it has been progressing ahead of the competition in spite of the recent roadblocks to autonomous driving on account of the Uber accident.

Source: Honda India

There was also the incident where a Tesla driver was killed in California while his car was in the semi-autonomous pilot mode. Krafcik claimed the crash reinforced Waymo’s initiative to construct cars that would be much safer as compared to the human pilots. He also defended the company’s decision to continue with testing on public roads despite the bad publicity that had made others pause their programs.

Truth be told, Waymo has not had public failings like Uber and Tesla due to the accidents with their autonomous products, so it is not limited by the scrutiny these others are currently facing. However, it does need to proceed with caution going forward. It needs to imprint safety as the core concept for its entire self-driving project to the point it becomes synonymous with its brand image.