Enterprise to Service Autonomous Fleets for Self-driving Startup Voyage
【Summary】In the partnership, Enterprise will provide the vehicles and take on fleet-managing duties, which includes modifying the vehicles with autonomous driving features.
Enterprise, a leading car rental company, is expanding its services to cater to autonomous vehicles. The business will be collaborating with Voyage, a startup that specializes in mobility services for senior citizens, on a project involving a fleet of driverless mini-vans.
In the partnership, Enterprise will provide the vehicles and take on fleet-managing duties, which includes modifying the vehicles with autonomous driving features.
The car-rental giant's competitors, including Hertz and Avis, all have similar agreements with other businesses in the nascent sector. Hertz is managing a compact fleet of driverless cars for Apple; and Avis has struck a deal with Google's Waymo for fleet maintenance services.
The terms of the collaboration are currently limited to 12 driverless vehicles (both groups open to extending the contract to more cars). Voyage incorporates an effective business model for quick fleet deployment, as it does not develop its own automotive components. The company purchases autonomous driving parts from suppliers and installs the components, such as cameras and sensors, on existing Chrysler Pacifica hybrid mini-vans.
Under the startup, the vehicle is referred to as Voyage G2. Equipped with Velodyne's VLS-128 LIDAR system, the units are capable of SAE L4 autonomous driving maneuvers. The startup's first driverless unit was a modified Ford Fusion, which utilized the Velodyne HDL-64E LIDAR system. Comparing the two components, the VLS-128 comes with higher resolutions and longer range. Moreover, the sensor is capable of producing up to three times more points than other LIDAR units on the market today.
In addition to LIDAR sensors, Voyage's self-driving vehicles feature multiple cameras – at the front, rear and sides of the car.
"Like Enterprise, Voyage understands that world-class fleet management is fundamental to the long-term success of autonomous fleets," said Brice Adamson, Senior Vice President at Enterprise Fleet Management, in a statement.
"Our partnership ensures that the Voyage team is able to focus on what they do best — developing autonomous technology and providing transportation services to community residents — without having to worry about acquiring and maintaining those vehicles."
The vehicles are leased from Enterprise, which are returned to the rental company at the end of the agreement. This strategy is useful during the early stages of expansion. When the service starts to expand rapidly, Voyage will likely have to consider different options.
Autonomous Transportation for Senior Citizens
Voyage's target market includes senior citizens and retirement communities. So far, it plans to deploy self-driving mobility services to cities in California and Florida. In the latter state, the startup will provide a fleet that is capable of supporting around 160,000 residents. Located in Orlando, the service is designed to cater to individuals via a smartphone app.
The company specializes in door-to-door transportation services. In the future, Voyage may consider deploying autonomous shuttles or buses for large-scale transportation between retirement communities or facilities. Enterprise did not reveal its driverless intentions outside of the partnership with Voyage. With over 9,900 branches across 90 countries, it could easily introduce autonomous fleets or ride-hailing services to customers.
Michael Cheng is a legal editor and technical writer with publications for Blackberry ISHN Magazine Houzz and Payment Week. He specializes in technology business and digesting hard data. Outside of work Michael likes to train for marathons spend time with his daughter and explore new places.
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