Waymo Enlists AutoNation to Maintain Driverless Test Fleet

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One of the vehicles being utilized by Waymo within the Phoenix space to check driverless know-how.

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Caitlin O’Hara for The New York Times

Waymo, one of many main forces in self-driving know-how, is enlisting the biggest auto retailer within the United States, AutoNation, to take care of and restore the rising variety of driverless automobiles Waymo is testing across the nation.

No monetary phrases have been disclosed. But the partnership suggests Waymo — a unit of Google’s father or mother, Alphabet — is transferring a step nearer to placing driverless automobiles into ride-hailing fleets that will serve most of the people, not simply its personal staff and others chosen by the corporate to check them.

“AutoNation will help badure that Waymo vehicles are always in top condition as we bring fully self-driving cars to the public,” John Krafcik, Waymo’s chief govt, stated in an announcement.

Mr. Krafcik lately hinted that Waymo was additional alongside in commercializing its self-driving know-how than beforehand indicated. “We’re really close,” he advised reporters at an indication of Waymo’s driverless automobiles at Castle, its take a look at heart on a former Air Force base in Northern California.

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Maintaining costly and technology-packed self-driving automobiles is a foremost problem for utilizing them in moneymaking companies, like ride-hailing fleets, stated Michael J. Jackson, AutoNation’s chief govt. In most instances, driverless automobiles in such fleets must be on the highway virtually across the clock to offset the price of the sensors, laptop chips, software program and different techniques that enable them to drive safely and attain their locations with out human operators, he stated.

“These vehicles need to be in service for hundreds of thousands of miles, much more than personal-use vehicles, to make them economically viable,” he stated. “To do that, you have to do much more proactive, preventative maintenance than what a normal person would do on a car.”

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