Hey, whatever happened to Waymo? Weren’t they supposed to launch an autonomous robotaxi service worldwide or something? Well if you’ve been wondering you’re in luck. They’ve just announced a partnership with Volvo:
On the path to building the World’s Most Experienced Driver, we partner with some of the world’s largest automakers to realize our mission to make it safe and easy for people and things to get where they’re goingWaymo Blog
Translation: Well, our plan to launch a robotaxi service looks like a train-wreck. Do you think we can salvage our business model with a sixth auto OEM partnership?
In addition to this latest automotive partnership, Waymo continues to benefit from strong partnerships with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), and Renault Nissan Mitsubishi (The Alliance), allowing us to advance the deployment of our Waymo Driver across a variety of vehicle platforms.Waymo Blog
Does anyone at Waymo really believe they haven’t launched because they don’t have enough partnerships? What is Volvo going to be able to do for them that their other partners could not?
If I were Waymo, what I would probably try to do is pull real world data from all the various legacy auto OEMs. Then they have an answer to Tesla’s advantage on the data front, and could potentially even surpass them if they played their cards right.
The problem is, Waymo’s sensor suite is way too expensive to actually make its way into any consumer auto purchase. With generating money from robotaxis ruled out during the pandemic, Waymo’s only hope is partnerships with OEMs. Unfortunately, since they’re still not level 5 autonomous, the best they can offer legacy automakers is driver assist. So far they’ve been unwilling to do that and say their strategy is to go straight to autonomy.
I don’t know what Waymo is trying to pull off here, but I’m not seeing them getting much closer to launching their first product. I’d love to be wrong and see them break legal ground to smooth the way for Tesla, but I just still don’t know when I will be able to take a test ride in a Waymo to try it out.