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New-generation robotaxi has no steering wheel
Published on: Wednesday, November 23, 2022
By: ETX Daily Up, FMT
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Waymo has partnered with the Zeekr brand to develop a new autonomous shuttle. © Zeekr
PARIS: The new brand Zeekr, launched by the Chinese company Geely, is partnering with Waymo for its next generation of robotaxis.

A first model has now been unveiled, which stands out for its lack of steering wheel and pedals. However, it’ll be a few years before the vehicle starts picking up customers.

It was announced a few months ago that the Geely Group’s premium electric brand, Zeekr, would collaborate with Waymo to develop a new autonomous electric vehicle.

A prototype was recently presented in Los Angeles, taking the form of a minivan based on a new proprietary SEA-M architecture.

This vehicle has sliding doors that reveal an interior cabin that can accommodate up to five passengers, with, for example, the possibility of positioning the front and rear seats face to face.

What is striking is the absence of steering wheel and pedals, which obviously saves space, especially since the vehicle has reclining seats.

A tablet up front allows passengers to access route-related or other information. On the outside, there are no rearview mirrors, but a multitude of sensors on the roof.

This fully autonomous vehicle will gradually become part of the fleet of the Waymo One car-sharing service, which is being deployed in Phoenix and should soon be available in certain areas of Los Angeles.

So far, Waymo’s fleet consists mainly of Chrysler Pacifica and Jaguar i-Pace vehicles. Currently, this model is still a prototype. Its production is scheduled to start in 2024.

Until then, it’s up to Waymo to work with the relevant legislators, particularly the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), to get this unusual car approved for use.