Enterprise manages fleet of autonomous vehicles
Enterprise has teamed up with Voyage, a start-up that offers door-to-door transportation in a number of senior citizen communities in the US. Under the agreement, Enterprise will provide and manage the cars and Voyage will modify them to make them self-driving.
Seen as a threat to the rental-car business be some, autonomous vehicles are starting to be embraced by rental companies. Last June, Avis Budget Group announced a partnership with Google's Waymo. Competition is also coming from technology companies like Uber that are fighting for the same passenger/rental car driver.
Voyage is a start-up mobility company that is bringing self-driving cars to two retirement communities in California and Florida. Later this year, the company will introduce a fleet in The Villages, a city of 160,000 inhabitants north of Orlando, Florida.
Unlike some other self-driving companies, Voyage isn't reinventing the wheel. Rather than developing its own cameras and Lidar-sensors, the company is buying of-the-shelf parts and fitting them to Chrysler Pacifica hybrid mini-vans leased from Enterprise.
The partnership allows Voyage to grow beyond the prototype phase and to acquire vehicles at a large enough scale for commercial operations, something that quickly becomes cost-prohibitive for a start-up company. When the lease term is up, Voyage simply removes the AV hardware and returns the vehicles to Enterprise.
"Our partnership ensures that the Voyage team is able to focus on what they do best — developing autonomous technology and providing transportation services to community residents — without having to worry about acquiring and maintaining those vehicles," said Brice Adamson, Senior Vice President at Enterprise Fleet Management.
Enterprise isn't moving into the self-driving fleet on its own steam as the company isn't convinced autonomous vehicles will be a large-scale reality in the near future. "We're a long way out before there's a real impact," commented Greg Stubblefield, Enterprise's chief strategy officer.
Image source: Voyage G2 in front of an Enterprise store