Google’s quest for autonomous vehicle technology officially has a name — Waymo.
Starting today (Dec. 14), Google’s self-driving project has been moved out of the X division. The former Google project is now a standalone company that falls under the ever-widening Alphabet umbrella. The name Waymo is apparently derived from its mission statement — finding “a new way forward in mobility.”
John Krafcik, former Hyundai executive turned CEO of the new Waymo, was quoted as saying at a press conference in San Francisco: “We’re now an independent company within the Alphabet umbrella. We’re a self-driving car company with a mission to make it safe and easy for people and things to get around. We’ve talked a lot about the 2 million miles we’ve driven on public roads. Now, we’ve driven another million miles on public roads.”
The Waymo announcement couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. Just last week, it was announced that Michigan passed statewide, comprehensive self-driving vehicle regulations.
Apple, Uber, Lyft and other self-driving companies that aren’t outright vehicle manufacturers are unable to launch self-driving car networks on public roads in Michigan unless they partner with traditional vehicle manufacturers or have their vehicle prototypes approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). We’ll have to wait and see what Michigan and other states down the line do with Waymo.
In the long run, Waymo plans to implement its technology in ridesharing, transportation, trucking and even personal use vehicles for people to run errands, commute to work or ride home safe after a night out.
In the short term, it has been rumored that Google has reportedly teamed up with Chrysler to create a semi-self-driving Pacifica minivan as part of a ridesharing service that could roll out as soon as the end of 2017, said Bloomberg.
While the former 2017 release is still unconfirmed, other companies have teamed up to create self-driving technology with more concrete deadlines — like Intel and Mobileye teaming up with BMW to create a self-driving car by 2021.