To offer shoppers rides in self-driving vehicles, Alphabet’s Waymo is starting a trial run for Walmart customers in Arizona. Walmart shoppers in the Phoenix area can hitch a ride in a self-driving car to pick up their online grocery orders from Walmart.com, Reuters reported.
Beyond Walmart, Waymo is working with DDR Corp to provide diners and shoppers with rides to a shopping center in Chandler, Arizona. And Waymo has also grown a partnership with Avis Budget Group and AutoNation Inc. that provides customers with a Waymo ride instead of a rental car when their personal vehicles are in the shop. In addition, Avis Budget Group will provide autonomous vehicles to its customers to help them retrieve or drop off their rental cars.
In a post-earnings conference call on Monday (July 23), Alphabet Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat highlighted the Waymo self-driving program, describing the progress shown there and in some other areas as “pleasing.” She noted that Waymo “expanded its partnership with Fiat Chrysler with the option to add up to 62,000 Chrysler Pacifica minivans to its self-driving fleet. And Waymo announced that it has driven more than eight million fully autonomous miles, with most of those on city streets.”
According to Waymo CEO John Krafcik, vehicles powered by Waymo technology are logging 250,000 miles per day. The technology has undergone five billion hours of simulations, he said. Though most testing takes place in California, those operations also are conducted in Arizona, Texas, Georgia, Michigan and Washington State.
The vote of confidence during the conference call follows news early this year that Waymo and Jaguar Land Rover would create what they are calling the world’s first high-end, electric, fully self-driving vehicle for Waymo’s transportation service. The partnership involves a vehicle called I-PACE, which will meld Jaguar’s knack for design with self-driving technology by Waymo, all developed in-house.