Google’s driverless car development appears to be nearing fruition
Google’s parent company Alphabet has created a driverless car company called Waymo, signalling that the company is ready to forge a commercial roadmap with its autonomous car technology.
The reveal of Waymo follows on from Alphabet’s moves to spin off its self-driving car project from X, it’s experimental technology research and development division.
It would also appear that Waymo will not create its own driverless car but will instead work with carmakers to integrate its driverless tech into their vehicles, as it plans to create a commercial ride-sharing service with Fiat Chrysler according to The Information, and will work with the automotive company to create an autonomous prototype van based on the Chrysler Pacifica.
Hit the road Google
John Krafcik, chief executive of Google Self-Driving Cars and soon to be the CEO of Waymo, introduced the new company, noting how it has evolved out of Google’s successful development and trials of autonomous driving technology.
“The ability to complete a fully self-driven trip on everyday public roads, with no test driver, was a big milestone for our team and the history of this technology. It was the signal that we could begin to shift our focus from foundational technical work towards launching our own company so we can offer many more rides, in more places, for more people,” he said.
“Since the early days of the project, our work has been shaped by feedback we’ve heard from the communities that will most benefit from self-driving cars. Our next step as Waymo will be to let people use our vehicles to do everyday things like run errands, commute to work, or get safely home after a night on the town.”
While Google is by no means alone in the driverless car arena, Tesla has effectively been pre-loading driverless hardware into is electric cars, Waymo represents a confidence from Alphabet that it is ready to take its technology to the next level and attempt to commercialise it.
Waymo has not ruled out creating its own car from scratch, but it is likely it will act more as a technology partner for other carmakers. However, if the Apple’s work on autonomous technology comes to fruition, Waymo could face competition from Cupertino in the emerging market of self-driving cars.