The American company Waymo, under the wings of Alphabet, has introduced a new car for its autonomous taxi service. The electric car was created in collaboration with Geely, a Chinese billionaire and business magnate Li Shufu. Probably the most interesting thing about the published pictures is that there is no steering wheel or pedals in the interior.
Specifically, it is a fully electric Geely Zeekr vehicle designed in Sweden, in which Waymo Driver systems have been implemented. “We are committed to expanding access to sustainable transportation, and the deployment of these fully autonomous electric vehicles for transportation in the United States is an important step in electrifying our Waymo One fleet.” lists a blog post.
A new level of autonomous vehicles
The vehicle will offer passengers maximum comfort – generous head and foot space, flat floor for more accessible entry, easy entry and exit thanks to B-pillar-free construction, low entry height and fully adjustable seats. The on-board equipment should also include chargers and screens with useful information.
Automobile purists may ridicule the idea of removing the basic controls that make a car a car. But there is no denying that the models Waymo attached to the announcement look downright cozy.
Zeekr it is not the first fully autonomous vehicle without a steering wheel. Already in 2015, Waymo introduced the Firefly – a small capsule-shaped car designed to test the first iterations of autonomous software. Firefly was taken out of service in 2017 because the company decided to use larger and more conventional vehicles that run faster than 40 km / h.
Geely Zeekr for Waymo One
The autonomous electric car should become part of the Waymo One taxi service, which will start operating in San Francisco after its debut in Phoenix at the end of last year. Each Waymo One is marked as “fully autonomous”, which means that, under ideal conditions, it can only transport passengers to its destination on the basis of its own self-steering software.
Putting a car into operation without basic controls is undoubtedly a very ambitious plan, however the final fate of the vehicle is in the hands of the regulators. Waymo’s existing vehicle fleet is currently undergoing extensive testing on public roads under the supervision of certification authorities. If all goes according to plan, it could get the green light in the near future.
Geely Zeekr for Waymo One
It should be added that the existing autonomous vehicles in the Waymo fleet have a steering wheel, pedals and in many cases a driver (or more precisely an operator). He is present on board in case human intervention is necessary or if any anomalies are detected while driving.
Waymo was founded on the basis of the autonomous vehicle program implemented by Google, which was launched in 2009. After the restructuring, Waymo owns the parent company Alphabet. Waymo develops and tests vehicles equipped with advanced software and a range of sensors and cameras that ensure safe driving.