Google to Develop Self-Driving Taxis with the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Auto Alliance

Google to Develop Self-Driving Taxis with the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Auto Alliance

Author: Eric Walz   

The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, one of the world's biggest auto groups, is reported to be working with Alphabet Inc's Waymo division to develop autonomous taxis and other mobility services using self-driving vehicles, the Nikkei reported on Tuesday.

Waymo will work with the carmakers and announce a plan for the arrangement as early as this spring, the business daily reported.

The partners are considering the joint development of unmanned robo-taxis using Nissan vehicles, as well as a system that handles reservation and payments, Nikkei said.

A spokesman at the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance Nick Twork denied the partnership saying in an emailed statement that "This (Nikkei) story is based on rumors and speculation.  We have nothing to announce."

Google's Waymo also declined to comment.

Waymo is considered the industry leader in autonomous driving technology. The deal with the auto alliance might provide access into the competitive Asian ride-hailing market currently dominated by Grab, Southeast Asia's largest ride-hailing company.

Waymo is already working with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and Jaguar Land Rover. The Chrysler Pacifica minivans supplied by FCA are being used by Waymo One, the company's recently launched robotaxi service in the Phoenix Metro Area. Waymo plans to expand it autonomous taxi service to other cities in the near future.

In March 2018, Waymo said it was looking to add another 20,000 Jaguar I-Pace electric SUVs for use in its autonomous ride-hailing service.

Waymo outfits each of the vehicles for its autonomous ride-hailing service with its own suite of self-driving hardware and might do the same for Nissan, Renault or Mitsubishi vehicles.

Asia is the world's largest ride-hailing market. according to ABI Research's newest study on mobility. Out of the 16 billion ride-hailing trips that were completed worldwide in 2017, over 70 percent were completed in Asia, mosty by Singapore's Grab.

Uber sold its ride-hailing business in the region to Grab in 2018 and it looks like Waymo might be ready to move in.

Eric Walz
Eric Walz
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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