Waymo introduces its new Robotaxi built by new premium electric vehicle brand Zeekr – FutureCar | CarTailz

Author: Eric Walz

Zeekr’s Waymo electric robotic taxi.

Waymo, Alphabet’s autonomous driving unit, unveiled its latest autonomous passenger vehicle at the Los Angeles Auto Show this week. The company’s next-generation electric robotaxi is being built by Chinese premium electric carmaker Zeekr and represents the future of mobility for Waymo customers.

Zeekr was launched in 2021 by automaker Geely as a standalone premium electric brand to compete with Tesla, NIO, Xpeng Inc and others in China’s growing EV market. Geely is also the parent company of Volvo Cars. Geely and Volvo Cars also jointly operate the electric performance brand Polestar.

The futuristic electric Waymo robotic taxi is based on Zeekr’s M-Vision concept, which will go into series production in 2024. It is based on the automaker’s new Sustainable Experience Architecture (“SEA”) platform.

The SEA platform is designed to support a variety of applications including robotaxis, multipurpose vehicles and logistic vehicles. The flexible architecture allows customers like Waymo to add their own autonomous driving technology to the vehicle.

All SEA-M-based Zeekr passenger vehicles will meet global five-star safety standards and meet the highest safety requirements of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

“The unveiling of Zeekr’s SEA-M has demonstrated the technological strengths and potential of the brand,” said Andy AN, CEO of Zeekr. “The commitment of partners to SEA-M has also reflected Zeekr’s ability to tailor development to each user’s needs.”

Waymo said the multi-passenger commercial Zeekr robotaxi is designed to prioritize the comfort, convenience and preferences of Waymo one-ride-hailing customers.

The Waymo robotic taxi features a long wheelbase, electric sliding doors, and a flat floor with a low step-in height, making it easy for passengers to board and disembark. It also offers generous headroom and fully adjustable seats. Other features include infotainment screens for front and rear passengers and built-in chargers for cellphones and other electronic devices.

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Waymo’s Robotaxi has electric sliding doors for easier entry and exit.

Wamyo announced in February that Zeekr had been selected to build vehicles for its autonomous driving service called Waymo One.

The ZEEKR M-Vision, on which Waymo’s Robotaxi is based, was jointly developed by Zeekr’s research and development facility called China Europe Vehicle Technology Center (“CEVT”) in Gothenburg, Sweden, with additional support from a research and development team from China developed.

Waymo said it will integrate its full-stack autonomous driving technology stack called “Waymo Driver” into the commercial version of the all-electric Zeekr vehicle. The Zeekr Robotaxi was specially developed in Sweden for autonomous ride-hailing. The all-electric robotaxi will eventually replace the gas-powered models in the Waymo One fleet.

Waymo also uses Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans and Jaguar I-Pace all-electric SUVs in its robotaxi fleet.

The Zeekr robotaxi will have two designs, one without a steering wheel and one with traditional driver controls. Waymo plans to deploy the passenger-centric, fully autonomous robotic taxi Zeekr on U.S. roads over the next few years as part of the Waymo One fleet.

The Zeekr robotaxi is also built to withstand the rigors of everyday commercial use. According to Zeekr, the M-Vision offers an extended service life of 5 years/500,000 km. The electric vehicle is designed for 16 hours of non-stop driving per day.

Waymo is widely recognized as an industry leader in the development and deployment of autonomous driving technologies. The company has extensive experience, having spun off Waymo from Google’s self-driving car project, which began working on self-driving vehicles in 2009.

To date, Waymo’s fleet of self-driving vehicles has traveled over 40 million kilometers on public roads as the company refines its driverless technology. In preparation for the commercial launch of Waymo’s One Ride hailing service in San Francisco, the company’s fleet traveled 2.7 million miles on the city’s streets last year alone, creating maps and collecting valuable data to help… to improve autonomous driving platform Waymo Driver.

The experience of riding in one of Waymo’s autonomous vehicles is like riding an Uber. Drivers summon one of Waymo’s autonomous vehicles with the Waymo One app. Once the vehicle arrives and passengers are seated and buckled in, they simply press the ride start button on a touchscreen display to begin their journey.

A monitor in the rear seat of each vehicle also shows the vehicle’s perception systems in real-time, and drivers get an expanded view of what the self-driving vehicle “sees” as it autonomously navigates the city using cameras, radar and lidar.

Drivers also have a pull button in case a passenger needs to abort their ride. When a driver presses the button, the vehicle will stop at a safe spot and let them exit.

Geely has raised $500 million in its first-ever external funding round for its new EV brand Zeekr in October 2021.

Zeekr’s first model was the “001”, a compact, battery-powered station wagon. Earlier this month, Zeekr officially launched its second model, a sleek people carrier called the 009.

Zeekr’s new electric multi-passenger van (MPV) will be the world’s first vehicle powered by an advanced battery developed by battery manufacturer Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd. (CATL) called “Qilin” was developed and presented in the summer.

CATL is the world’s largest automotive battery supplier and the largest lithium-ion battery manufacturer in China. The company’s automotive customers include Tesla.

With Qilin’s more energy-dense cell-to-pack battery, an electric vehicle can travel up to 1,000 km (621 miles) on a single charge, according to CATL. The impressive range of the Qilin battery has the potential to transform the auto industry and lead to widespread global adoption of electric vehicles.

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