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Waymo to Bring Driverless Cars to France and Japan via Nissan-Renault Partnership

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【Summary】For Waymo, the agreement provides a way to expand its footprint outside of the US. Nissan and Renault will also get a big boost in their respective quests to launch self-driving cars.

Michael Cheng    Jun 28, 2019 5:00 AM PT
Waymo to Bring Driverless Cars to France and Japan via Nissan-Renault Partnership

Leveraging the strength, experience and expertise of car manufacturers through partnerships is a common practice in the autonomous driving sector. Waymo, which has formed collaborations with numerous startups and business in the space, has been applying this strategy in expanding its self-driving fleet to new countries. 

In order to establish its services in France and Japan, the startup revealed it has partnered with Nissan and Renault. The collaboration is a huge win for all parties, as it opens several business-related opportunities. For Waymo, the agreement provides a way to expand its footprint outside of the US. Nissan and Renault will also get a big boost in their respective quests to launch self-driving cars.

Read on to learn more about how the three companies will work together on commercializing driverless vehicles.

Partnering with Nissan and Renault

For now, the partnership is still at its early stages. The parties have not released details about potential programs and activities that will be nurtured under the collaboration. Interestingly, on Waymo's side, this would be the startup's first agreement that would offer its self-driving technology to help car manufacturers build autonomous vehicles (according to CNBC).  

"We believe this partnership [place] us at the forefront of driverless mobility new business streams in our key strategic markets," said Thierry Bolloré, CEO of Renault.

Outside of the Nissan-Renault collaboration, Waymo has been working with a handful of well-known automakers in scaling its autonomous fleet. In 2016, the startup formed an agreement with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles for the production of 100 Chrysler Pacifica minivans, which was expanded to 62,000 units in 2018.

Furthermore, Waymo is in a long-term partnership with Jaguar Land Rover. The two groups will develop a driverless Jaguar I-PACE and utilize the vehicle for autonomous transportation services. Waymo is expected to integrate the self-driving vehicle with its fleet in 2020.

Expanding to New Locations

The goal of the collaboration is to explore the possibility of expanding self-driving mobility services to Japan and France. This likely entails autonomous robo-taxi fleets for passengers and driverless deliveries for local businesses. According to the official press release, the group has cited the following key issues with expanding to new locations: regulations, market opportunities and legal. In order to decrease risk, the parties will perform extensive research in those areas, as well as various ways to offer transportation-as-a-service products.

"This is an ideal opportunity for Waymo to bring our autonomous technology to a global stage, with an innovative partner," said John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo, in a statement.

"With the Alliance's international reach and scale, our Waymo Driver can deliver transformational mobility solutions to safely serve riders and commercial deliveries in France, Japan, and other countries."

To clarify, the "Waymo Driver" in Krafcik's statement is the autonomous driving platform (not a human representative overseeing a self-driving car). Consisting of cutting-edge hardware and software, the company has accrued more than 1.2 million driverless miles in California last year. The technology is frequently viewed as a solution for senior citizens, mass transportation and freight.

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