WAYMO AUTONOMOUS VEHICLE
Alphabet is the new holding company for Google and all other projects, including the Google Auto LLC, the autonomous vehicles previously developed under Google X. In December 2016 Google restructured its self-driving car project into its own entity, Waymo, with Google Auto LLC as a subsidiary. Waymo means “A new way forward.” The Waymo Autonomous Vehicles has over 2.5 million miles under its belt as at the start of 2017. Public tests were mostly conducted on Californian roads where Waymo holds a permit with 20 other companies testing self-driving car technology. Waymo has the best performance of all the permit holders when measuring disengagement reports. Read our blog on the 2016 disengagement reports filed by all permit holders of the Californian public testing program for a detailed dissection of each active permit holders fillings. Waymo CE, John Krafcik is one of the 25 members of the US Department of Transport’s Automation Committee formed in January 2017.
The software the vehicle is based on is called Google Chauffeur. In May 2017, Lyft and Waymo signed a partnership agreement. Although Alphabet is one of the early investors in Uber it is no surprise that Waymo did not partner with the world’s largest car-hailing company since Waymo claims that Uber stole some of its technology in an ongoing court case between the two companies. Reuters reported that according to Lyft the transaction is not exclusive, leaving the door open for other partnerships such as Lyft’s shareholder GM.
Waymo is piloting Chrysler Minivans and Lexuses in Phoenix. The company last month invited people living in South East Phoenix to apply for the program, allowing the participant to hail a ride via a mobile app for local trips. Already as much as 10,000 such rides have been completed by Google staff. Waymo announced in April that it would increase its autonomous fleet from 100 to 600 Chrysler Pacifica minivans.
WAYMO AUTONOMOUS VEHICLE IN THE NEWS
Week 45 2017 - Alphabet to ditch safety drivers behind the wheel
After eight years of developing autonomous driving systems, Waymo entered a new chapter in the race to bring the first self-driving vehicle to market by starting the testing of driverless cars without safety drivers at the wheel. The testing is conducted on public roads in Phoenix, Arizona with a fleet of Chrysler Pacifica mini-vans and follows relaxation of the autonomous testing rules by the authorities in October. According to Waymo through a post on Medium, the company will also invite members of the public to take part in the testing in the next few months.
Week 37 2017 - Alphabet considers investment in Lyft
Alphabet is considering an investment of $1 billion in Lyft according to Bloomberg. The move would build on the co-operation the two companies already have in developing autonomous technology. Alphabet is already invested in Lyft’s competitor, Uber, but Waymo, Alphabet’s self-driving point company, is suing Uber for stealing some of its self-driving tech.
Week 14 2017 - Navigant Research discounts Waymo and Tesla autonomous efforts
Navigant Research placed Ford and GM at the top of its autonomous driving leaderboard, surprisingly far above Waymo (7th), the pioneer of autonomous driving. Waymo was only listed as a contender, and Tesla who has already clocked over 300 million miles in Autopilot (Level 2 Autonomy) did not make the Top 10 list. Waymo, not aiming to develop a car, but rather focusing on autonomous technology has partnered with Chrysler and Ford on testing autonomous technology. Making Navigant’s findings even more surprising to us is that Waymo performed exceptionally well compared to other automakers on the list when comparing across all permit holders allowed to test autonomous tech on Californias public roads. According to CA DMV regulations, each permit holder must annually file a disengagement report, reflecting the number of events where a driver essentially has to take over from the vehicle’s autonomous mode to either prevent a traffic incident or where the system fails. Waymo posted a record 0.2 disengagements per 1,000 miles in its 2016. For a breakdown of each permit holders testing in California read our recent blog providing detailed analysis.
Navigant’s criteria are based on the following ten factors; vision, go-to-market strategy, partners, production strategy, technology, sales, marketing, and distribution, product capability, product quality and reliability, product portfolio and staying power. The Top Ten on Navigant’s list are Ford, GM, Renault–Nissan Alliance, Daimler, Volkswagen Group, BMW, Waymo, Volvo/Autoliv/Zenuity, Delphi and Hyundai Motor Group.
Despite Tesla aiming to have a market ready Level 5 autonomous product by the end of the year, it is only listed as a contender. Tesla is criticized by some, for being too aggressive, using its customers as guinea pigs for its AutoPilot software. Not surprising though is that Uber features on the bottom end of the list, the controversial ride-hailing company has been in the news lately for losing its right to test in San Francisco, being sued by Waymo and a crash in Tempe, Arizona, temporarily halting its pilot program.
Week 8 2017 - Waymo and Uber in court over theft of Lidar technology
Week 5 2017 - WYAMO's (Google) disengagement performance improves from 2015
The California Department of Motor Vehicles released it’s 2016 Autonomous Vehicle Disengagement report this week. We reported earlier that a total of 20 companies were authorized to test the autonomous technology on the State’s public roads by the end of 2016. The Disengagement report reflects the number of events where a driver essentially has to take over from the vehicle’s autonomous mode to either prevent a traffic incident or where it fails. Alphabet’s autonomous vehicle program moved from Google to a stand-alone company Waymo, revealed its 2016 scoring in a blog post by it’s Head of self-driving technology. Waymo showed a marked improvement from its 2015 safety-related disengages of 0.8 (341) disengages per 1000 miles to 0.2 (124) in 2016.
Week 51 2016 - Waymo (Google) and Fiat Chrysler reveals their Chrysler Pacifica test vehicle
In May 2016 we reported on the Google (now Waymo) partnership to test self-driving technology with 100 Chrysler Pacifica Minivans. The partnership completed the first vehicles within an impressive six-month period. The partnership revealed the vehicle this week that will be driving on public roads coming 2017.
2016 Week 50 - Google spun its autonomous vehicle in new company Waymo
Finally, Google‘s self-driving efforts got some traction after stalling for the most part of 2016. Reuters reported that Alphabet Inc. spun off the Google car, also named the Chauffeur, into a stand-alone company named Waymo, meaning “A new way forward in mobility”. John Krafcik, the new company’s CEO, indicated that the car would be production ready soon. The market always expected that Google would lead the autonomous race, as it started the project nearly a decade ago, and this move may just confirm the expectations.
2016 Week 42 - Apple Electric Vehicle Strategy
Apple’s electric vehicle strategy for Project Titan has shifted in recent weeks, steering the company away from directly competing in developing electric cars. The company will focus more on software, specifically related to AI solutions for autonomous cars. Making Apple the first of the big Tech companies that joined the race to compete with Tesla to rather focus on their core strengths, than trying to enter the automobile sector. Others such Google has spent a huge amount of resources to enter the new market, but no production models have come from their efforts yet.
2016 Week 34 - Chrysler partnership
Following on the recent partnership between Google and Fiat Chrysler formed around the Chrysler Pacifica minivan, where the two companies will build 100 self-driving minivans, Google is getting a step closer to its autonomous driving ambitions with the appointment of ex-Airbnb exec Shaun Stewart. Stewart’s appointment as director of the self-driving project is not a replacement for the position of Chris Urmson, the Google project’s technical director, who left in early August after he became unhappy with the direction the project is taking.
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