If you’ve ever taken advantage of Google maps to get you anywhere, you are probably aware that this nifty navigation tool was made possible in large part by Google’s self-driving cars. While the search engine giant has worked for the past six years to refine its self-driving vehicles, it has recently spun off its car division, formerly known as Chauffeur, to a subsidiary known as Waymo.
What’s a Waymo?
Waymo, its name derived from “a new way forward in mobility,” is now an independent company under the far-reaching Google Alphabet umbrella, headed up by CEO John Krafcik. At a recent press conference, Krafcik announced that his team had conducted its first fully driverless tests on public roads in Austin last year. What made this test unique is the fact that the car had neither steering wheel nor pedals.
The car did have a passenger, but he only served to make the test more spectacular. Steve Mahan, a friend Nathaniel Fairfield, principal engineer of Waymo, is legally blind. It wasn’t the first time that Mahan had ridden in a self-driving car, but it was the first time without other sighted passengers and a police escort. Despite the lack of entourage, the car was still able to negotiate its way through stops, pedestrians, narrow streets and more in Mahan’s trip through Austin.
When Can I Get One?
According to company records, Google’s self-driving cars have logged nearly three million miles on public roadways and nearly 1 billion miles in simulations. The company is dedicated to continuous improvement hoping to build out better maps, make rides smoother and improve navigation in bad weather. While the company envisions many uses for these cars, it bills itself as a technology company and not a car building company. Waymo will instead rely on partnerships with established carmakers to make these vehicles available to the public.
Waymo is currently in cooperative development with Fiat/Chrysler to roll out next generation sensors in the Chrysler Pacifica. These vehicles are currently preparing for road tests. The initial plan is to team up with Chrysler, using the Pacificas in a ride-sharing deployment. We could see semi-self-driving fans ready to hit the road with passengers as early as late 2017. Not be left behind, ride-sharing innovator Uber is working with Ford and Volvo to add self-driving cars to their stable of vehicles as well.
While we aren’t sure what will happen when a self-driving car earns a ticket, if you have earned one, be sure to visit ApprovedCourse.com for an easy way to get that ticket gone!