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Waymo partners with Jaguar to make an autonomous I-Pace SUV

In a major partnership announcement, the former Google Self-Driving Car Project is aligning with Jaguar Land Rover to make that company's EV SUV fully autonomous.

Waymo

While many in the automotive world are still reeling from the news of last week's fatal self-driving Uber accident, Waymo is moving along, full speed ahead, using the New York International Auto Show as a venue to announce a partnership with Jaguar Land Rover. Waymo, the former Google Self-Driving Car Project, already has a fleet of autonomous Pacifica minivans racking up the miles. With this partnership, its offerings are about to get a lot more luxurious.

The I-Pace is Jaguar's first all-electric SUV, offering 240 miles of range and promising excellent driving dynamics at a cost that undercuts the Tesla Model X by about $10,000. But, as with most Jaguars, the I-Pace is a lot more than its numbers, and indeed stands poised to be one of the best-looking EVs on the market.

Of course, the top hat of sensors that Waymo has applied to make those cars autonomous doesn't do the Jag any visual favors, but it will certainly inject a lot of smarts. Waymo's sensor package includes LiDar, radar and imaging sensors. These, combined with some serious artificial intelligence, will enable fully autonomous behavior for the I-Pace. The resulting mash-up SUVs are destined to enter into service as driverless taxis, much like Waymo's Chrysler Pacificas will later this year.

Waymo has pledged to buy up to 20,000 I-Pace SUVs by 2022, a substantial number considering Jaguar Land Rover globally sold 621,109 vehicles last year. "Our passion for further advancing smart mobility needs expert long-term partners," Prof. Dr. Ralf Speth, Jaguar Land Rover chief executive officer, said. "In joining forces with Waymo we are pioneering to push the boundaries of technology."

For its part, Waymo has recently crossed the 5 million self-driven miles mark, a massive distance made even more massive when combined with the 5 billion simulated miles its cars have driven in the virtual world. All that to create what Waymo calls "the world's most experienced driver."