John Krafcik, the CEO of Google's self-driving car division Waymo Inc., unveiled the Chrysler Pacifica minivan on Sunday, Jan. 8. These cars feature the company's autonomous driving technology, which was made through a "full-stack approach." This method will allow the company to decrease production costs that will also bring the price down for these modern vehicles.
Better Drivers Not Better Cars
Krafcik explained that Waymo's aim is to build better drivers through the autonomous driving technology. According to his media presentation, these self-driving cars will produce a driver "that's never tired, or distracted." Krafcik also emphasized that they will not be in the business of building cars but they will collaborate with car manufacturers.
The first batch of these self-driving cars is the 100 Chrysler Pacifica minivans. These vehicles were made through Waymo's collaboration with Fiat Chrysler as detailed in Fox News. These cars were outfitted with short-range and long-range Light Detection and Ranging System. Aside from the LIDAR system, Waymo also equipped the cars with cameras and radars to improve their sensing technology. These features will make self-driving cars safer than vehicles with human drivers.
Affordable Self-Driving Cars
Since most of the technology in these self-driving cars is in-house technology, Waymo can sell the mass produced units at a very affordable price. Based on Krafcik's presentation, the LIDAR System used in these cars would have cost the company $75,000 a few years back. However, Waymo designed its own system for use in its self-driving cars and this brought the cost down by 90 percent. Through mass production, the company can decrease the price further. This will allow them to make these cars available for millions of people.
It remains to be seen if Google will succeed in creating the ultimate self-driving cars. Waymo plans to test the Chrysler Pacifica minivans in California and Arizona in May to see if their project is ready to hit the road.