Waymo zooms toward a diverse robo-taxi fleet with Jaguar deal

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Under the agreement, Alphabet Inc.'s Waymo will integrate its self-driving system into Jaguar's I-Pace electric SUVs, the first all-electric offering from the luxury unit of China's Tata Motors Ltd.

The timing of the announcement is slightly unfortunate for Waymo, with the first pedestrian death by a self-driving auto still fresh in the memory.

The Jaguar deal will expand upon a fleet of self-driving cars that Waymo has been gradually building in partnership with Fiat Chrysler since 2015. Together they are positioning the hot new I-Pace electric vehicle firmly at the pointy end of the next frontier in mobility.

The Senate is also trying to fast-track regulations, but even at a rapid pace by government standards, rules for self-driving vehicles are likely to develop more slowly than technology companies are accustomed to.

The tie-up is just the latest in a series of partnerships and integration pacts between Waymo and other automakers.

Until now, Waymo's fleet had been made up mostly from Chrysler Pacifica models adapted to contain Waymo's sensor technology. "Today, we're talking about moving forward into the future with technology we're very confident in, with the I-PACE, and integration of our driver with I-PACE is a safe benchmark for the world".

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Testing begins this year, and if all goes to plan the I-Paces will carry paying customers in 2020.

What's more, this is a pretty significant order-Waymo CEO John Krafcik said that up to 20,000 self-driving I-Paces will be built in the first two years.

Waymo Jaguar I-PACE vehicles, equipped with Waymo's self-driving technology, will start testing later this year.

Waymo has already tested its autonomous technology in 25 US cities, and adding thousands more Pacifica Hybrids and 20,000 Jaguars will support the expansion of its service. The long-term goal for Waymo remains safety, says Krafcik.

A week after the incident, Uber suspended all of its autonomous vehicle testing operations. Its size makes it ideal for city driving.

Waymo has been working on self-driving cars since 2009 and has driven more than eight million kilometres on public roads. The service enables members of the public to request a vehicle using a mobile app, and will initially launch in Phoenix, Arizona.