A year after Waymo announced a custom robotaxi for its ride-hailing service, the Alphabet company today previewed the autonomous electric vehicle. 

The Google Self-Driving Car Project did have the custom “Firefly” that also lacked a steering wheel, but was just for testing. Waymo’s modern vehicles are the Chrysler Pacifica and Jaguar I-Pace with various cameras and sensors fixed, but they are otherwise similar to models anyone can buy. In the future, the Waymo One service will have a purpose-built vehicle for autonomous ride-hailing.  

Waymo’s robotaxi is the result of an OEM collaboration with Geely, specifically the Zeekr brand, and “designed in Sweden.” Besides the “Waymo Driver” technology being integrated into each side and corner, as well as the roof, there’s notably no steering wheel. The two seats in the front row just have a screen in the center. They note self-driving status (e.g., “Yield to a pedestrian”), progress maps, and music controls.

There are additional screens behind the drive and front passenger seat for the second row. Meanwhile, there’s ample cargo space in the back.

Waymo told us that the front seats face the road — instead of being reversed like other self-driving cars — to aid with awareness and prevent car sickness. Its testing found that people want to see what’s happening in front of them even if they’re not in control.

Designed specifically for fully autonomous ride-hailing.

Another interesting detail is the use of sliding doors on both sides for the front and back. It will certainly make for an easy entrance and departure. Meanwhile, the door handles are more like buttons than a physical mechanism. There are arrows next to “Welcome” and “Aboard.” 

You’ll find “Zeekr” on hubcap (and rear), while “Waymo” is on the top sensor array. 

The robotaxi is meant for the US Waymo One fleet, but the current availability is still set for “in the years to come.”

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  • Waymo robotaxi
  • Waymo robotaxi
  • Waymo robotaxi

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Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: abner@9to5g.com