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Alphabet’s Waymo Is Planning Massive Expansion of Taxi Service

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Jun. 19 2019, Updated 2:17 p.m. ET

Waymo begins self-driving I-Pace road tests

Waymo, the self-driving unit of Google parent Alphabet (GOOGL), has started testing autonomous Jaguar I-Pace vehicles on public roads in California, according to a report from TechCrunch. In March last year, Waymo and Jaguar Land Rover (or JLR), the maker of the I-Pace SUV, announced a long-term strategic partnership on driverless transportation service. The pact involves JLR supplying Jaguar I-Pace vehicles that Waymo would then equip with its self-driving technology. Waymo would then use the self-driving Jaguar I-Pace vehicles for its autonomous ride-hailing service, which launched last December in parts of Arizona under the Waymo One brand. At the moment, Waymo uses Chrysler Pacifica minivans from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCAU) for its ride-hailing service.

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I-Pace vehicles to join Waymo’s taxi fleet

Waymo’s goal is to deploy as many as 20,000 self-driving I-Pace vehicles for its autonomous ride-hailing by around 2022. The modified I-Pace vehicles are expected to join Waymo’s self-driving fleet next year.

As Waymo prepares to ramp up its autonomous ride-hailing service with the addition of thousands of I-Pace vehicles, competitor Yandex (YNDX) has also announced big plans for its autonomous driving program. The Russian technology giant plans to have more than 100 self-driving vehicles on road tests globally by the end of 2019. In China, Baidu (BIDU), Alibaba (BABA), and Tencent (TCEHY) are also underway with the development of autonomous vehicles. China is encouraging its technology champions such as Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent to build autonomous vehicles with hopes that such vehicles will help solve the traffic congestion problem on the country’s roads.

Waymo is part of Alphabet’s Other Bets, which generated $170 million in revenue in the first quarter.

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