Google’s autonomous vehicle project has become an autonomous tech company. Here comes Waymo, a company with utmost focus on self-driving technology. Starting off as a project inside the tech company eight years, Waymo has now become a standalone business under Alphabet Inc. – the corporate parent of Google -- with an aim to commercialize its self-driving technology and build related products with it.
However, it seems that Google’s strategy for its self-driving unit actually involves a slim-down of its operations – similar to what Apple has done to its own autonomous car project. Apple has said that it was refocusing its energy from building self-driving cars to just creating self-driving technology. It was really a goodbye for Apple’s Project Titan, although the tech giant has not explicitly admitted that it was seeking to build a self-driving.
As for the formerly Google Self-Driving Project, now Waymo – which stands for a new Way forward in Mobility – the path it is treading seems similar to Apple’s. A report by The Information says that Waymo would not build its own self-driving vehicle, even though it – when it was still a project -- already unveiled its and the world’s first fully self-driven car in October 2015.
Although that was still a prototype, it proved that self-driving vehicles are not far off from being a reality in the near future. That future remains, however, despite Waymo’s move to scale down operations by not building its own self-driving car. This is because Waymo would focus its strengths on forging or deepening its partnerships with existing carmakers. This means Waymo would concentrate on further developing self-driving technology and implement features such as emergency vehicle detection and gesture signal technology.
When Waymo was still a project, Google confirmed plans to partner with Chrysler in development and testing of autonomous vehicles. In fact, a prototype of self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivan was spotted being tested on public roads in October. People privy with Google said Waymo and Fiat Chrysler plans to commence a ride-sharing service using the carmaker’s semi-autonomous Pacifica minivans late next year.
According to John Krafcik, chief executive of Waymo, the self-driving technology company has a mission to make it safe as well as easy for people and things to move around. He quipped that Waymo’s technology would be useful in personal vehicles, ridesharing and logistics, as well as in addressing last mile issues for public transport.
For the meantime, we could expect no self-driving vehicles from Google (Waymo), although the company should be able to further develop its technology with the help of establish partners from the auto industry. As of end of June 2016, the then project had around 58 prototype cars being tested on the road.