Google Waymo's self-driving vehicles will hit the road by end of January
The objective for now as specified by Waymo CEO John Krafcik, was to 'learn how people of all ages, shapes, and group sizes experience our fully self-driving technology.'
Yes, seven years down, Google's self-driving cars, now spun under Alphabet's Waymo will finally be taking to the public roads using production vehicles after years of testing. Helping them out in this endeavour, would Chrysler, with its Pacifica minivans, a fleet of which will be deployed out to the open public roads for testing by the end of January.
The news comes from day one of the North American International Auto Show which kicked off on 8 January and this is indeed the first time we see Google's Waymo chops put to practice using production ready cars as an add on kit. The move comes after Google officially cut a deal with Chrysler back in May 2016. Seven months later, this is Google's first working model fitted with all of its sensors ready to hit the streets. The objective for now as specified by Waymo CEO John Krafcik, was to "learn how people of all ages, shapes, and group sizes experience our fully self-driving technology."
The car which is originally just the standard e-hybrid version of the Pacifica minivan now comes fitted with an array of sensors that lets it see the world around it no matter what the weather conditions. This would include the radar, sensors, LiDAR and plenty of cameras along with the Waymo's software bits that now been integrated on the new Pacifica.
The important bit according to a report by The Verge is that Google also said that it would be building these components themselves to bring down their prices. It also pointed out that at some point both Chrysler and Google may launch a ride-sharing service with autonomous vehicles similar to what Uber is trying to pull off with Volvo.
This is indeed the first of many vehicles to come in what seems to be an Android approach to autonomous cars. While Google can build software and bring down the cost of the components needed for the kit, it lacks the experience when it comes to building cars, which is where the plethora of automakers come into the picture. With that it mind it was only recently that Google built its own smartphone with the Pixel. So it won't be too long until Google will want to take control over both hardware and software to deliver a class-leading product in the automotive space.
Google had recently announced that it was looking to partner with Japanese automaker Honda so the Chrysler Pacifica is indeed the first of many self-driving vehicles to come from Waymo. Automaker Tesla Motors oddly skipped on the LiDAR component altogether thanks to its expensive price tag and found a workaround with software and cameras instead. While LiDAR is primary component for a self-driving car, giving it a 360 view of its surroundings, it still an expensive piece of equipment which was earlier priced as much as the Pacifica minivan itself. Thanks to innovation and the push for self-driving vehicles, the price tags for the same are dropping as much as by 90 percent.
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