Yesterday, we reported that Google had stopped working on creating its own fully autonomous vehicles as part of a shake-up of its development efforts on autonomous vehicle technologies. Mere hours later, Alphabet, Google’s parent company, launched a new business, Waymo. The new enterprise represents a step forward for Google's self-driving technology, albeit a diagonal one.
After years of research in this field, and an original head start over most competitors, Google's project seems to have fallen behind. Stuck in the Google X moonshot division up until now, the team relegated its preeminent market position to an ever-growing number of competitors. Companies like Uber, Ford, and others, not to mention Tesla, are already testing autonomous vehicles on public roads and have aggressive plans to bring them to market.
With the launch of Waymo, Google is finally joining this club, and trying to prove its technology has what it needs to become a commercial product.
John Krafcik, the CEO of the new company said:
“Today, we’re taking our next big step by becoming Waymo, a new Alphabet business. Waymo stands for a new way forward in mobility. We’re a self-driving technology company with a mission to make it safe and easy for people and thing to move around...We can see our technology being useful in personal vehicles, ridesharing, logistics, or solving last mile problems for public transport. In the long term, self-driving technology could be useful in ways the world has yet to imagine, creating many new types of products, jobs, and services.”
The creation of Waymo cements the shift for Alphabet from trying to develop their own autonomous vehicle to creating autonomous vehicle software which can be sold to third parties car manufacturers. Once Waymo manages to commercialize what has been over a decade's worth of research, it could then pivot back to making a standalone autonomous vehicle, something that Waymo's CEO hasn't ruled out.