Google Autonomous Program is now Waymo
Google has taken a major step to further its autonomous vehicle technology effort by establishing it as a dedicated operation called Waymo. Led by veteran automotive exec, John Krafcik, Waymo will function under Google’s parent company, Alphabet. Krafcik says the name stands for “a new way forward in mobility,” and positions Waymo as “a self-driving technology company with a mission to make it safe and easy for people and things to move around.” Krafcik indicated Waymo’s next step will be to apply its self-driving technology to a host of different mobility arenas that could encompass everything from personal vehicles and ride sharing to long-haul trucking and last-mile issues for public transport. It also signals that Google may abandon efforts to build its own car, but rather will work with other manufacturers to implement the technology.
Since kicking off the autonomous program in 2009, Google/Waymo has rolled up over 2 million self-driven, real-world test miles using its prototype vehicles and racked up another one billion in simulation driving this year alone. At the Waymo event, Krafick publicly confirmed that on October 20, 2015 the firm successfully completed the world’s first fully self-driven car ride on public roads. On that date, one of its vehicles carried Steve Mahan, a passenger who was legally blind, on a trip around city of Austin, Texas. Currently developing its fourth generation of autonomous vehicles, Waymo also is working with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles on a fleet of about 100 semi-autonomous Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans that could start testing sometime next year.
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