Stellantis Executive Optimistic About Prospects of Waymo Partnership for Self-Driving Delivery Vans

This “deepened” partnership will focus on commercial self-driving Ram delivery vans, a target that was first announced in 2020 and promptly faded from public view. Discussions on this “improved” deal have focused, in part, on a crux around driverless delivery: how does the package get from the vehicle to the customer? Waymo, which is owned by Google parent-company Alphabet, currently doesn’t operate a commercial delivery service using its self-driving vehicles. That deal did include a future plan to include delivery via Uber Eats, but as of today, it has not launched, according to a Waymo spokesperson. Under the deal, Fiat Chrysler — now known as Stellantis — would handle the manufacturing and provide Waymo with minivans that built in redundancies designed for autonomous driving.

In a recent interview with TechCrunch, Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares revealed that the partnership between the automotive giant and self-driving technology company Waymo is not only still intact, but is also growing stronger.

The two companies have been working together since 2016, when Waymo ordered thousands of custom Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans to become the first driverless vehicles on the road. While the initial order was never fulfilled, the minivans played a crucial role in Waymo’s commercialization plan and provided tens of thousands of rides to the public. However, in May 2023, Waymo ended the program and switched its robotaxi service to all-electric Jaguar I-Pace vehicles.

The expanded collaboration between Stellantis and Waymo focuses on the development and deployment of self-driving Ram delivery vans, a project that was first announced in 2020 and then seemingly disappeared from the public eye. According to Tavares, discussions on improving this deal have centered around the logistics of driverless delivery, specifically how to safely and efficiently transport packages from the vehicle to the customer’s doorstep.

“When you reach the destination, how do you take the parcel out of the van?” Tavares stated. “This has been a point of discussion that doesn’t seem easy to solve and we are now upgrading our collaboration deal with them to take that into consideration.”

Tavares remained secretive about the specifics of the partnership, but hinted that the companies were working towards a promising solution.

“We understand their needs and there are a lot of things that we can do for them in terms of engineering,” he added. “But I would say that the partnership with Waymo is getting deeper. And I think, more exciting.”

While Tavares did not provide any details on the timeline, he did mention the possibility of announcing progress “possibly by summer.”

A spokesperson for Waymo confirmed that the company is actively seeking to strengthen its collaboration with Stellantis, but did not disclose any further information or if any progress has been made.

Despite facing challenges in execution, the possibility of a broader deal between the two companies showcases their sustained interest in reviving and strengthening the partnership. Waymo, owned by Google parent-company Alphabet, has not yet launched a commercial delivery service using its self-driving vehicles, and its self-driving truck program was removed to focus on scaling its robotaxi service. Additionally, a multi-year strategic partnership with Uber in May 2023 to allow users to hail driverless vehicles via the app in Phoenix included plans for delivery through Uber Eats, but has not yet been implemented, according to a Waymo spokesperson.

While the future of their partnership remains uncertain, Tavares and Waymo’s continued discussions and efforts to deepen their collaboration prove that they are dedicated to finding innovative and practical solutions for self-driving vehicle technology, making the possibility of driverless delivery a tangible reality.

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Zara Khan

Zara Khan is a seasoned investigative journalist with a focus on social justice issues. She has won numerous awards for her groundbreaking reporting and has a reputation for fearlessly exposing wrongdoing.

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