Image Credit: Alphabet / Waymo
Alphabet has signed an agreement with Avis Budget Group to manage Waymo’s fleet of self-driving minivans in Phoenix, the latest in a wave of partnerships between companies seeking their footing in the market for self-driving cars.
For the past year, Alphabet has been working with Chrysler to modify Pacifica Hybrid minivans and integrate Waymo’s self-driving systems. In April, Waymo began offering free rides to Phoenix residents as part of a pilot program. Avis will service and store the minivans but will not maintain self-driving technology such as lidar sensors.
The partnership, first reported by Bloomberg, will last several years but will be non-exclusive. It could also lead to further collaboration. Avis also owns Zipcar, the on-demand car-rental service. Combining Zipcar’s rental model with self-driving technology could help Waymo develop a business model that could challenge Uber. Waymo is also collaborating with Lyft to bring self-driving cars into the mainstream.
The deal echoes in some ways Amazon’s planned purchase of Whole Foods Markets, with a tech giant reaching out to a potential rival to secure the staff and service…
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