Waymo will begin offering service to other riders, in addition to its Waymo One members. (Source: Waymo)

Driverless Service, Electric Vans Flourish in the New Pandemic World

Waymo has been readying for what will likely be a new norm—driverless ride-hailing. Additionally, Amazon will introduce a fully electronic van delivery service in parts of the United States, Europe and India.

Starting October 8, members of its Waymo One service have been able to take family and friends along on their fully driverless rides in the Phoenix area. Existing Waymo One members have the first access to the driverless rides — terminology that means no human behind the wheel. However, the company said that in the next several weeks more people will be welcomed directly into the service through its app, which is available on Google Play and the App Store.

Waymo said that 100% of its rides will be fully driverless — which it has deemed its “rider only” mode. But don’t expect hundreds of Waymo-branded driverless Chrysler Pacifica minivans to suddenly cover the 600-plus square miles of the greater Phoenix area.

Waymo CEO John Krafcik explained to techcrunch.com in a recent interview that the company will offer various modes of operations in the Phoenix area.

“We’re just ready from every standpoint,” Krafcik told TechCrunch. “And how do we know we’re ready? We’ve had our wonderful group of early riders, who’ve helped us hone the service, obviously not from a safety standpoint because we’ve had the confidence on the safety side for some time, but rather more for the fit of the product itself.” He added that these early riders helped the company determine if the product was “delivering satisfaction and delight for them.”

Later this year, Waymo will relaunch rides with a trained vehicle operator to add capacity and allow us to serve a larger geographical area. Krafcik said the company is in the process of adding in-vehicle barriers between the front row and rear passenger cabin for in-vehicle hygiene and safety.

Even though Waymo and other driverless autos took a serious hit in a Phoenix suburb when a 2018 fatality occurred, it is clear that autonomous vehicles are around Phoenix in greater numbers and will soon be everywhere in like numbers. It won’t solve every traffic or transportation problem but it will make a good-sized dent in them. No pun intended.

read more at techcrunch.com

Amazon Rolls Out Electric Vans

It’s not just driverless ride-hailing making news. Amazon is going all-in on an electric fleet with “last-mile delivery” solutions that reduce its carbon footprint.

The new vehicle is 100% electric and features various technology such as sensor detection, exterior cameras that provide 360-degree views, Alexa voice integration and more.

“We combined Rivian’s technology with our delivery logistics knowledge, and the result is what you see here-the future of last mile delivery,” Ross Rachey, director of Amazon’s Global Fleet and Products, said in a blog post.

You may have seen the TV ads in which Amazon announced plans to purchase 100,000 electric vans from Rivian to bolster its delivery fleet; it is also a major investor in the Irvine, Calif.-based company. Amazon led a $700 million round for Rivian last year.

According to geelwire.com this week, the Seattle tech giant in August inked a deal with Mercedes to buy more than 1,800 electric vans for the company’s delivery fleet in Europe. Mercedes also joined Amazon’s Climate Pledge, an initiative announced by the tech giant last year to become net carbon neutral by 2040.

Amazon will roll out 10,000 fully electric three-wheelers in India.

read more at geekwire.com