Details are noticeably sparse, but the initial announcement says Polestar, the Volvo premium electric brand, will come out with a new EV platform just for ride-hailing vehicles.
The automated driving technology is called Waymo Driver, and Waymo has been testing it in vehicles from a number of automakers, including Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan, and Renault.
You'll be shocked to hear this, but Volvo thinks that self-driving vehicles will be safer than today's human-piloted models.
Add Polestar to the list of companies that think Waymo has what it takes to bring us to an autonomous-vehicle future. Exactly what that future will look like is a bit vague right now, but we know that Polestar is joining a strategic group partnership with Waymo to further autonomous-vehicle technology that also includes two other brands in the stable of Chinese automaker Geely: Volvo and Lynk & Co.
Polestar says that this new partnership will open up "new opportunities for the electric performance brand," including putting Waymo's fully self-driving technology—called Waymo Driver—into future Polestar vehicles. The deal makes Waymo the exclusive global Level 4 partner for Volvo Car Group. As defined by the SAE, Level 4 is a category of technology that can drive the car on its own in limited situations.
"Through our strategic partnership, we will first work together to integrate the Waymo Driver into an all-new mobility-focused electric-vehicle platform for ride-hailing services," Waymo said in a statement. In other words, some sort of Polestar premium autonomous robotaxi mobility service is coming, at some undefined point.
Polestar declined to respond to Car and Driver's request for more information about the all-new EV platform that Waymo talked about, or about the other obvious questions, such as whether Waymo Driver technology will find its way into any of Polestar's other vehicles, or when and where the new Polestar ride-hailing service will start up, or if it will be an expansion of an existing service.
Waymo said that it partners with automakers in order to, in the end, "create vehicles that integrate easily with the Waymo Driver." These vehicles could be then used for a number of services like local deliveries, trucking, or as personal cars, in addition to ride-hailing services. In recent years, Waymo announced partnerships with Jaguar Land Rover (2018), the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, and Lyft (both in 2019) to test its self-driving technology. Waymo has also been using Chrysler Pacifica minivans for years in its pilot programs.
Given Volvo's brand identity, it's no surprise that the company sees safety upsides to autonomous vehicles. "Fully autonomous vehicles have the potential to improve road safety to previously unseen levels and to revolutionize the way people live, work and travel," said Henrik Green, Volvo Car Group's chief technology officer, in a statement that also mentioned "new and exciting business opportunities for Volvo Cars, Polestar, and Lynk & Co." without going into details.
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