Waymo is ready for a dramatic next step after eight years of preparation, most of it as the Google Self-Driving Car project. The Alphabet Inc. unit has begun testing autonomous vehicles on public roads without human safety drivers at the wheel, and early next year will make its robotic chauffeurs available to Phoenix-area commuters.
Speaking at the Web Summit conference in Lisbon, Portugal, Waymo CEO John Krafcik said on Tuesday that company technicians are already hailing its Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans in and around Phoenix via a mobile app and leaving it to the artificial intelligence operating the vehicles to figure out how to get to requested destinations. Within a few months, Waymo vans loaded with laser LiDAR, radar, cameras, computers, AI and no human safety drivers will pick up Arizonans registered in its “Early Riders” program.
“We’re now working on making this a commercial service available to the public. People will get to use our fleet of on-demand vehicles to do anything from commute to work, get home from a night out, or run errands,” Krafcik said. “Getting access will be as easy as using an app; just tap a button and Waymo will come to you, and take you where you want to go.”
Google’s push to perfect driverless cars, stretching back to 2009, ignited a tech race in the auto industry that represents the biggest change in personal transportation since horses were replaced with horseless carriages more than a century ago. But Waymo has to move fast to…Read More