Volvo announced Thursday it will use Waymo’s self-driving system, the Waymo Driver, for a fully automated ride-hailing service.
No details on when or where the service will be offered were mentioned during Volvo’s announcement, though the automaker said the service will operate at Level 4 self-driving capability.
Level 4 on the SAE scale of self-driving capability means a vehicle can operate without the need for a driver for extended period of times, though only in specific conditions. Those conditions typically include geo-fenced areas with detailed map data available, as well as mild weather.
The end goal is a Level 5 car, which will be able to function at the same level as a human. Volvo previewed such a car in 2018 with its 360c concept (shown above), which was designed specifically with ride-hailing in mind.
Waymo and Volvo logos
Volvo’s deal with Waymo also extends to sister brands Polestar and Lynk & Co. And Volvo is still developing its own self-driving technology which could be available in the Swedish brand’s cars from as early as next year. One of the technologies is expected to be a self-driving system for highways.
Volvo isn’t the first automaker to partner with Waymo. The Renault Nissan Mitsubishi Alliance formed a similar partnership with Waymo last June. Waymo has also tapped Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Jaguar for supply of vehicles for its needs. Volvo supplies vehicles to Uber’s self-driving team, but doesn’t use Uber’s self-driving technology in any of its own vehicles.
Waymo through its Waymo One service is already offering rides to the public in Phoenix, Arizona, albeit on a limited basis, and the company has plans to expand to numerous other U.S. cities and eventually other regions. In a statement released Thursday, Adam Frost, chief automotive officer at Waymo, hinted at Volvo’s planned automated ride-hailing service being run outside the U.S.
“This key partnership with Volvo Car Group helps pave the path to the deployment of the Waymo Driver abroad in years to come, and represents an important milestone in the highly competitive autonomous vehicle industry,” he said.