waymo minivan

AutoNation enters deal with Waymo to fix its driverless cars

Waymo, Google’s driverless car project, has announced it is partnering with America’s largest automotive retailer AutoNation in order to maintain and repair its fleet of vehicles around the country.

The multi-year agreement to support Waymo’s autonomous vehicle program will see AutoNation franchised stores around the country providing vehicle maintenance and repairs for the autonomous Chrysler Pacifica hybrid vehicle fleet, but will expand as Waymo introduces additional brands.

AutoNation said it would offer complex mechanical and cosmetic repairs to the vehicles.

Waymo wants to operate fully autonomous, driverless vehicles as early as the end of this year.

The company wants to skip driverless modes that require any level of human intervention as they found that test drivers were often too distracted engaged in other tasks to be able to take over manual control quickly enough.

Whether legislators get on board with this plan in the near future is another matter however.

In an attempt to get the public on side, Waymo launched an advertising and public education campaign named “Let’s Talk Self-Driving” last month.

The campaign intends to raise awareness of the technology, while addressing some of the fears and criticisms around autonomous vehicles.

AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson said: “AutoNation remains uniquely positioned to lead our industry towards the future of mobility, due to our brand, exceptional service and maintenance capabilities, and commitment to innovation.

“AutoNation and Waymo are like minded in our joint mission to keep people safe whenever they are in a vehicle.”

John Krafcik, Waymo’s CEO, added: “AutoNation has built a reputation for providing excellent service and maintenance that makes cars safer and more reliable. Both companies have a shared vision of enhancing the in-car experience of our customers.

“With its compelling national footprint, modern facilities and trained technicians, AutoNation will help assure that Waymo vehicles are always in top condition as we bring fully self-driving cars to the public.”

“As a long standing partner in vehicle sales and service for our brands, FCA commends AutoNation for preparing their operations to support the maintenance and service of autonomous vehicles, including the Chrysler Pacifica Minivans produced and developed for self-driving in collaboration between FCA and Waymo,” said Sergio Marchionne, CEO with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

Last month Nvidia launched its latest driverless platform, dubbed ‘Pegasus’, which is designed to power fully autonomous vehicles without any need for human interaction.

The system uses an AI ‘nanny’ to oversee the inner workings of the vehicle in order to detect any unexpected behaviour that could be the result of a cyber intrusion. 

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