Google self-driving car project will now be called Waymo. In an address to an audience in California earlier, the new CEO of the new Alphabet owned Waymo John Krafcik said “We’re now an independent company within the Alphabet umbrella” thereby confirming what reporters had long suspected.
Krafcik also confirmed that the team successfully conducted its first fully driverless ride on public roads last year using a car that has no steering wheel and other pedals. This in other word means they didn’t need to make provisions for eventualities like failure which would then require that a human take over. You see that’s how much they trust their driverless cars and it gets interesting because this wasn’t carried out in some isolated road but an everyday traffic roads in Austin.
“We’ve talked a lot about the two million miles we’ve driven on public roads,” “Now we’ve driven another million miles on public roads. We don’t talk as much about miles we put on in simulation. We’ve done over one billion miles in simulations and we have taken over 10,000 trips with Googlers and guests in places like Mountain View, Austin and Phoenix” said the new Waymo CEO.
As interesting as it sounds, it doesn’t stop there, they now want you to imagine using this technology in a ride hailing scenario to take on the likes of Uber. “We can imagine this in ridesharing, in transportation, trucking, logistics even personal use vehicles and licensing with automakers, public transport and solving the last mile” which leaves open the possibility of Alphabet (Google’s parent company) could be thinking of floating its own ride hailing service in future.
Bloomberg reported yesterday that Google will deploy a semi-autonomous version of the Chrysler Pacifica minivan that it’s developing with the Italian-American carmaker for the new service as early as the end of 2017, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the matter is private. Alphabet and Fiat Chrysler declined to comment on their plans.
This comes as Fiat-Chrysler announced plans to unveil a fully electric powered vehicle at next month’s CES electronic show. They won’t be the first to partner with tech giants in this area. Uber and Volvo have announced a separate partnership of their own even Lyft which is Uber’s rival has announced plans of its own to start running self-driving cars by 2021. BMW and Ford are others who have also announced plans to delve into the self-driving space. Apple though has preferred to keep its own plans secret till this day.
With this, it looks like Uber has a potential competitor in Waymo and this comes as the US government has decided to back the initiative by collaborating with relevant stakeholders to come up with regulations that will ensure safety.