Alphabet Inc’s Google announced yesterday that its self-driving car project has been rebranded as Waymo; the company will act as an independent entity within Google. Executives have hinted that Waymo is close to bringing its autonomous driving technology to the public.
reported that while no deals were announced, the creation of a self-driving car company “signals a desire to finally monetize the company’s valuable research amid fierce competition from a score of rivals all vying to be the first to launch production-ready self-driving cars.”
Google’s seven-year foray into self-driving technology has been one of the most pioneering and prolific in the emergent industry. Its dominance, however, has been challenged in recent years by other giants looking to take a piece of the autonomous vehicle pie, such as Uber and Apple Inc., and even traditional car manufacturers looking to take the great leap.
“It’s an indication of the maturity of our technology,” said Waymo chief executive John Krafcik in a press conference in San Francisco. “We can imagine our self-driving tech being used in all sorts of areas.”
In October 2015, Google made headlines when one of its autonomous cars gave a ride to a blind man in Austin, Texas. Normally, an engineer sits in the passenger seat during testing to monitor the technology, but during this monumental ride, only the blind man was a passenger in the vehicle.
Krafcik said that Waymo’s technology will be production-ready “soon”. He also made clear that Waymo is not looking into producing self-driving cars, but rather in developing the tech to drive and direct them. Krafcik said that the possible applications for the technology include ride-sharing, transportation, trucking, logistics, and personal use vehicles.
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One of the largest tech companies in the world is priming itself as a potential competitor in the self-driving car industry.