Alphabet partners with Avis to manage self-driving car fleet

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Waymo has entered into an agreement with rental auto company Avis that will see Avis manage its autonomous vehicle fleet in Phoenix.

Its fleet, which now totals around 600 Chrysler Pacifica minivans, has been used for Waymo's early rider programs in which approved users can request and receive rides in the company's self-driving taxis.

In the first deal of its kind, Waymo's fleet of Pacificas will be stored and serviced at various Avis Car Rental and Budget Car Rental locations around Phoenix, which also plays host to Waymo's first-of-its-kind public pilot program.

The rental company said it would provide support and maintenance for Waymo, a subsidiary of Google-parent Alphabet (Xetra: ABEA.DE - news), to keep the vehicles clean and mechanically ready to go.

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'With thousands of locations around the world, Avis Budget Group can help us bring our technology to more people, in more places'.

News of the alliance with Waymo caused Avis Budget Group shares to jump 14.15 percent to $27.67 by the close of official trading on the Nasdaq (Frankfurt: 813516 - news) exchange in NY. Shares in Hertz were up 7.7% to 10.28, as Wall Street apparently expects the car-rental leader to score its own self-driving deal with one of several entities involved in the effort. In particular, Arizona has been a favorite testing area for self-driving research because of the state's looser restrictions for testing on public roads. And Waymo has said its in talks with Honda to work on self-driving cars. Shares of Alphabet were down 0.83 percent. Keeping up with maintenance will be a full-time job in itself, thus Waymo is smart to outsource that part of its fleet support.

The Avis deal is the first publicly disclosed self-driving vehicle partnership in the rental business, an industry that's expected to be among the first customers once self-driving cars hit the road. We refine Waymo technology through one billion miles of simulation testing each year, and our cars have self-driven over three million miles on public roads across four USA cities.

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