Renault, Waymo partner on potential self-driving route from Paris airport

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PARIS — Renault and Waymo said they would explore the creation of an autonomous mobility service between Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris and La Defense, a huge business district west of the city, with a possible goal of having it in place for the 2024 Olympic summer games.

Renault and Waymo, the self-driving vehicle subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet, will be partners with the Ile-de-France region in the venture.

Valerie Pecresse, the president of the region, which includes Paris, said it was investing 100 million euros ($110 million) in autonomous vehicle infrastructure.

“I hope that we will be able to bring this project to a successful conclusion for the Paris Olympic Games,” Pecresse said in a news release.

The service would benefit residents and tourists alike, Pecresse said.

The distance to the airport from La Defense, where many of France’s largest companies are based, is about 20 miles, and the journey can take up to an hour and a half because of frequent traffic jams.

Renault, Waymo and Pecresse did not offer any more details about the potential service.

Renault and Nissan plan to develop a robotaxi service by 2022, according to the alliance’s 2022 midterm plan presented by former alliance chairman Carlos Ghosn.

A route between Charles de Gaulle airport and Paris would be ideal for autonomous vehicles because of the ease of adding the relevant infrastructure, Ghosn told Automotive News Europe in a 2018 interview.

Last year, Renault showed a series of autonomous concepts, including the EZ-GO robotaxi, a concept for a shared autonomous vehicle, which the automaker said could be operated by private or public companies, complementary to passenger cars and public transport options such as the metro or buses.

Renault has several autonomous vehicle test programs, including in a geofenced area in Rouen, France, and another in the Paris region.

In June Renault, Nissan and Waymo said they had entered into a partnership to pursue development of self-driving systems for a range of vehicles.

Waymo is at the forefront of autonomous car technology.  The company has been allowing passengers to ride in autonomous vehicles since 2017, most prominently in the United States in the Phoenix, Arizona, area.

In 2018 Waymo started a commercial ride-hailing service with safety drivers. This month it told members of its early-rider programs that it would soon introduce completely driverless vehicles into the program, although at first there would probably be a Waymo employee in the rear seat.

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