Bill Fay, senior vice president of automotive operations at Toyota North America, said Tuesday in an interview at an event in NY he did not know long the pause would last. The stylish I-PACE SUV will be one of several vehicles available for use in the company's self-driving auto service set to open in 2018. Up to 20,000 I-PACEs will be built in the first two years of production and be available for riders of Waymo's driverless service, serving a potential one million trips per day.
Krafcik declined to comment on Uber's accident, but emphasized that Waymo still believes its technology will prove to be more reliable than human drivers who have shown an inclination to be distracted or intoxicated while behind the wheel. On-road testing and capturing real-world data will allow Waymo and Jaguar Land Rover engineers to refine the technology. Thus, the 20,000 units added to the Waymo fleet will be unique to the autonomous driving service rather than the general market. The company has not specified where it will be heading after Phoenix. These two heavy weights working together means the autonomous future of self-driving cars is not only coming sooner than ever but could look awesome too. Both Uber and Lyft are trying to ward off Waymo by developing their own self-driving cars, even though they got a late start in autonomous technology. Uber was locked in a legal battle with Waymo for months over Uber stealing self-driving trade secrets from Waymo before settling for $245 million in February.
Waymo and Uber have a history with each other. The companies say the partnership focuses on safety and reliability, two things that have come into question recently after an Arizona woman was struck and killed by a self-driving vehicle.
Toyota Motor said last week it was temporarily pausing autonomous vehicle testing following the Uber crash on USA public roads to help its test drivers, who could be experiencing "an emotional effect" from the incident.
As Waymo described in a piece on Medium, the I-Pace is ideal for families who prioritize safety as well as single-person users who want a sleek ride.