John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo, debuts a customized Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid that will be used for Google's autonomous vehicle program at the 2017 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan.
(Photo : Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
In 2015, Alphabet, Google's parent company, created a division called Waymo focuses on self-driving cars. Waymo developed an autonomous system, which will be integrated into the cars of the startup's partner-automakers. This posits the Google sister company as an automotive supplier.
Yesterday at the Detroit Motor Show, Waymo chief executive officer John Krafcik revealed to the public a Chrysler Pacifica Minivan equipped with a self-driving system designed by Waymo. Waymo will conduct tests of the Chrysler minivans on public roads in Arizona and California.
Waymo's self-driving technology includes an enhanced vision system, radar, and light detection and ranging sensors or LiDAR. The Pacifica vans' sensor suite, which also has the mapping software Google Maps, is all Waymo-made.
This approach can pave the way for cheaper self-driving cars. When Waymo outfitted a Toyota Prius with LiDAR Sensors in 2009, Google spent around $75,000. Costs have been reduced by 90 percent. This development will make the technology more accessible to millions of customers.
Waymo envisions the technology as the leading system in self-driving cars. The technology can be used not only in automotive applications but also in logistics, public transport solutions, and personal transportation.
According to Krafcik, Waymo is focused on making the hardware reliable and scalable. The company has been working 24/7 to realize the potential of this technology. It aims to tap the potential of fully autonomous cars, whose stakeholders include Tesla Motors, BMW, Ford Motor Co., and Volvo Cars.
Waymo's goal is to have a self-driving technology that offers Level 4 autonomy. This designation means that the car can take care of itself and handle more complex situations. Total commercialization of self-driving technology is central to Waymo's strategy.
Alphabet wants to have more alliances with automakers or other companies. Forming partnerships is deemed important for Waymo. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV is an early adopter and whose team-up with Alphabet will culminate in a test fleet later this month.
The video below presents the Associated Press' report on the plan of Waymo to conduct road tests of the minivans equipped with its self-driving technology. Share your thoughts on the article in the comment section.