The dream of a car that knows where to go, and gets there on its own may be just around the corner. Google’s parent company, Alphabet, has announced that its autonomous car project, formally one of several projects under Google’s Lab X, became a company called Waymo. The new company signals that autonomous vehicles may soon be available for purchase.
Waymo’s CEO, John Krafcik, has introduced the progress that Waymo has made in the past year. Weymo’s self-driving cars took to the streets of Austin, Texas, and drove without any human control, nor a police escort. The model, which has no pedals or steering wheel, was driven by a blind test driver for the past year. All in all, Google’s autonomous car clocked over 2 million miles of public roads since the experiment had started.
Krafcik joined Google’s ranks after years working as an executive at Hyundai North America. His background suggests that Alphabet is looking to make Waymo commercially viable, and offer its amazing technology to the wide public. Krafcik has emphasized that Weimo is not a car company, and that the company is mostly looking to partner with other vehicle manufacturers to create a final product that affordable by anyone.
For the near future, the company has teamed up with Chrysler to create autonomous features in the luxury brand’s latest model, Pacifica. Industry reports claim that the two companies are set to provide a driverless rideshare service that could start as early as November 2017. The new service may find itself in competition with Uber, which recently made overtures towards the incorporation of self-driving cars in its service.
There is still some time before Waymo’s technology hits stores. The company states that it’s looking to improve its mapping software, as well as smooth out the riding experience overall, especially in inclement weather. There are also some wider implications that need to be addressed before self-driving cars can hit the roads in high numbers. Put simply, the legal framework for autonomous vehicles does not exist yet. Nevertheless, the creation of Waymo is a strong and clear sign that one of the frontrunners of the technology is getting ready to have a product out to the market. What used to seem like science fiction a few years ago, becomes reality before our eyes.