Google has set up Waymo, a new company under the umbrella of its parent company Alphabet. The name Waymo is inspired by Google’s vision of discovering a better way for mobility and transportation in the near future. The CEO of Waymo John Krafcik announced in San Francisco that Waymo had conducted the first ride using driverless technology in the city of Austin the year before in a car that possessed no pedals or steering wheels. In this historic ride in Austin, a blind passenger named Steve Mahan was riding the driverless car solo. Mahan has been the subject of previous driverless car rides of Google, but was always escorted by police. However, this time, Mahan was alone in the driverless car and the car successfully drove in busy traffic, in narrow lanes, and amid pedestrians in the streets of Austin. Later in a press conference, Mahan described himself as ‘rider 1’.
There have been a spate of new recruitments in Waymo. These include the appointment of John Krafcik as the CEO of the company. This clearly points out to a pattern where Waymo is looking for adding technological muscle to its already formidable team and looking for a way to evolve into a potentially profitable company. In a press conference, Krafcik dwelled upon the two million miles that Waymo has achieved on public roads and also mentioned that Waymo has undertaken more than 10,000 trips with other Googlers and guests in varied places such as Phoenix, Mountain View and Austin. However, Waymo’s head of self-driving technology Dmitri Dolgov said that there was still lots to be done, including building better maps, making rides smoother and easing out difficulties while driving in adverse weather conditions including heavy rains and snow.
Krafcik also spelled out the future vision of Waymo, which includes ridesharing, transportation, logistics and trucking and even for personal use, adding that self-driving technology is viable in all such fields. Krafcik also emphasised on the fact that Waymo is more focussed on developing the technology aspect of self-driving cars rather than mere manufacturing of cars. Waymo is all set to partner with other car makers, besides focussing on building its own product. Krafcik made it clear that Waymo is a self-driving technology company and not in the business of manufacturing cars. He said that the main aim of Waymo was not to make better cars but to make better drivers.
— Waymo (@Waymo) December 13, 2016
While Google’s self-driving cars are still in the stage of research and development, experts have indicated that such type of vehicles will be common by the year 2020. Waymo CEO Krafcik said that the company was very close to realising its vision of bringing self-driving car technology to the general public. Experts are also commenting that Waymo’s transition from an experiential to a mature company will make the technology of self-driving cars available to the public in the near future. Instead of driving a car themselves and then finding a place to park, people in the near future are going to be driven by robot controlled vehicles, if Waymo, Uber and car manufacturers reach a fulfilling consensus.