Waymo and Uber team up

In a surprising turn of events, Waymo and Uber have announced a new multi-year strategic partnership that aims to make Waymo’s autonomous driving technology available to a wider audience through the Uber platform.

The collaboration between the two companies, which were once fierce rivals, seeks to combine Waymo’s cutting-edge autonomous driving technology with Uber’s extensive ridesharing and delivery networks.

The Tuesday statement highlighted that the integration of Waymo’s technology into the Uber platform will be rolled out publicly later this year. This will start in Phoenix, where Waymo has recently expanded its operating territory.

This initial phase will involve a limited number of Waymo vehicles and will offer both local deliveries and ride-hailing trips to Uber users. Riders will have the opportunity to experience the safety and convenience of the Waymo Driver on both the Uber and Uber Eats apps.

Additionally, Waymo vehicle hailing will still be available through the Waymo One app. With an impressive service area spanning over 180 square miles, Waymo’s Phoenix operations currently represent the largest fully autonomous service area globally.

Co-CEO of Waymo, Tekedra Mawakana, expressed enthusiasm about the partnership, stating:

“We’re excited to offer another way for people to experience the enjoyable and life-saving benefits of full autonomy.”

Mawakana also emphasized the opportunity for Waymo to reach a broader audience through Uber’s extensive customer network.

Uber’s CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, highlighted the significance of the collaboration, stating:

“Fully autonomous driving is quickly becoming part of everyday life, and we’re excited to bring Waymo’s incredible technology to the Uber platform.”

Khosrowshahi emphasized Uber’s access to a global marketplace across various mobility sectors, including delivery and freight.

Prior to this partnership, Waymo and Uber had already initiated joint efforts in the field of autonomous trucking in June 2022. The collaboration aimed to integrate Waymo’s driver technology with Uber Freight, enabling the implementation of autonomous solutions on U.S. roads.

Waymo Via, the company’s autonomous solution, was directly connected to the Uber Freight platform, allowing shippers to access Waymo’s advanced capabilities.

Source: Geospatial World

Waymo and Uber – From Rivals to Collaborators

The partnership between Waymo and Uber to offer Robotaxi services marks a notable shift in their relationship. Alphabet, Waymo’s parent company, filed a lawsuit against Uber for alleged theft of trade secrets.

Uber was accused of stealing its self-driving technology after discovering that Uber’s autonomous vehicle project employed lidar technology nearly identical to Waymo’s own. Uber had acquired the self-driving truck startup Otto, founded by former Waymo engineer Anthony Levandowski, for $680 million in 2016, which led to the controversy.

Nevertheless, CNBC reported that the two companies eventually reached a settlement in 2018, with Uber agreeing to pay Waymo $245 million. Levandowski faced legal consequences and was sentenced to 18 months in prison for trade secret theft. However, former President Donald Trump granted him a pardon in January 2021.

A Focus on Collaboration and Innovation

The current collaboration showcases their ability to move forward and focus on the potential benefits that autonomous driving technology can bring to the transportation industry.

By combining Waymo’s expertise in autonomous vehicles and Uber’s extensive customer base and transportation networks, the partnership aims to offer a safe, enjoyable, and fully autonomous experience to users.

The integration of Waymo’s technology into the Uber platform represents a significant step toward making autonomous driving a part of everyday life. With Uber’s global reach in the mobility, delivery, and freight sectors, the partnership has the potential to expand access to autonomous vehicles on a much larger scale.

As autonomous driving technology continues to advance, the collaboration between Waymo and Uber demonstrates their commitment to staying at the forefront of innovation and shaping the future of transportation.

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