Google spins off and launches Waymo, Google’s self-driving car company.
After 2 million miles of self-driving and years of testing, Google is taking their self-driving car project out of development and into the hands of car companies. Starting Tuesday, as a company under the Google umbrella, Waymo will take their proprietary self-driving car technology and transform it into a commercial product.
What is Waymo?
“Imagine if everyone could get around easily and safely, without tired, drunk or distracted driving,” that is how Waymo describes their new company on their website. Highlighting the ability for people to spend more “doing what you want to do.”
Waymo CEO John Krafcik explained the company’s mission is to “make it safe and easy for people and things to get around.” However, what is next? According to Krafcik, expect to see the expansion of self-driving cars in the ridesharing, truck driving, and personal driving markets in the years to come.
Krafcick elaborated that the future of Waymo lies in “the ridesharing business, trucking, logistics, even personally used vehicles and licensing with automakers.”
Currently, Waymo is testing their self-driving car technology in California, Washington, Arizona and Texas. The technology works by using sensors and software to detect objects up to two hundred yards away in all directions. Waymo explains that their companies’ sensors not only detect but also predict the behavior of motorists. In addition, self-driving cars have the ability to respond to closed lands or complicated situations such as railroad crossings.
Currently, the company has two different prototypes including the Lexus RX450h, a smaller prototype car (shown above) and an expected 100 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans coming soon. Currently, there are test drivers who are behind the wheel who share the experiences with Google designers and developers.
What happened to Apple’s self-driving car?
In October, Apple’s self-driving project “Project Titan” was reportedly headed in a new direction starting 2017. According to reports, Apple was interested in working with automakers immediately or develop their own car at a later time. In fact, a Bloomberg report that hundreds of employees within the “Project Titan” team were either reassigned or cut with the remaining staff to allegedly encouraged to provide a new direction for the project.
Is the government ready for self-driving cars?
Self-driving cars are expected to cut down the number of traffic related deaths, which total a million worldwide per year. As well as provide a new form of transportation for millions of people who are unable to drive.
On Tuesday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a proposed rule that would require vehicle-to-vehicle, also known as V2V communication.
Similar to WiFI, V2V communication uses DSRC (Dedicated Short Range Communications) radio singles that send and receive short messages over the course of 1,000 to 1,500 feet. One vehicle would have the capability of sharing speed, braking, position and direction. Vehicles receiving these messages would be able to send drivers alerts. Essentially, cars would be able to talk to each other.
But, it would take a few years, if enacted, before it becomes mandatory. NHTSA spokesman Bryan Thomas explained in a statement that it would take about three years after the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) before talking cars becomes a Federal Motor Safety Standard.
Thomas explained, “The whole process from publication of the NPRM to final rule usually takes about one year,” Thomas said.
Thomas continued, “Two years after that the phase-in period begins with half of new vehicles in the first year being affected, 75% in the second year and 100% from the third year on.”
The future of self driving cars?
But, Google is not alone in the self-driving arms race towards self driving cars. Apple, Uber, Tesla and even Chinese web service company Baidu announced their plans to bring self-driving cars to consumers. In fact, last October, Uber and Budweiser teamed up to deliver a truckload of beer across Colorado, highlighting the possible disrupt in the trucking industry.
Shares of Google were trading up on Tuesday evening, following the announcement of Waymo.