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Meet Waymo: Google Company's Self-driving Car That Kickstarted Robocar Revolution

By Monica U Santos , Dec 15, 2016 01:38 AM EST
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Starting today, the Google's first self-driving car will be called as Waymo. It is a standalone car company under the Alphabet corporate umbrella. And that means it’s time to take the technology to market. The name is derived from its mission of finding “a new way forward in mobility.”

Meet Waymo: Google Company's Self-driving Car

“We’re now an independent company within the Alphabet umbrella,” Waymo CEO John Krafcik told an audience at a press event in San Francisco today. Krafcik also noted that the Waymo team conducted the first fully driverless ride on public roads in Austin last year, using a car with no steering wheels and no pedals in “everyday traffic” on city streets.

“Self-driving technology is awesome in all these categories,” said Krafcik as per The Guardian. But one thing Waymo won’t be doing is building its own cars – a step back in ambition from the highest goals of the X labs team. “We’re a self-driving car company with a mission to make it safe and easy for people and things to get around. ,” Krafcik said. “We’ve been really clear that we’re not a car company, although there’s been some confusion on that point. We’re not in the business of making better cars. We’re in the business of making better drivers.”

Steve Mahan In History Of Waymo

According to TechCrunch, this historic first, fully driverless ride on public roads put Steve Mahan, a legally blind friend of Waymo principal engineer Nathaniel Fairfield, in the self-driving car solo. Mahan had ridden in Google test vehicles previously, but he was always accompanied and escorted by police. This time, he rode with neither, and the car negotiated four-way stops, pedestrians, narrow streets and more in public in Austin.

Mahan has become one of those capsule-bound explorers, as Wired reported. In October 2015, he became the first member of the public to ride in Google’s self-driving pod-like prototype, alone and on public roads. No steering wheel, no pedals, no human on board to step in should something go wrong. Google engineers say that Mahan’s uneventful, ten-minute jaunt around Austin, Texas—which they talked about publicly for the first time today—was a key milestone on the road to the news they’re now announcing.

 

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