A 2017 Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivan equipped with Waymo's self-driving vehicle technology. Waymo, the company born from Alphabet's Google Self-Driving Car research project, faces mounting competition to perfect technology needed for fully autonomous vehicles. After staying low key about its progress, the latest indications from the new company are that it's far along the path to making such vehicles a reality by taking cost out of the components and boosting overall performance and reliability. John Krafcik, Waymo's chief executive officer, said at the Automobili-D conference in Detroit that the latest sensors, software, artificial intelligence and other components -- all developed and built in-house -- are being used for a fleet of 100 Chrysler Pacifica minivans, the first batch of which will begin public road tests in California and Arizona this month, he said. Keeping development and production in-house has led to major cost savings, including a 90% reduction for the laser Lidar sensor riding atop the new Pacificas.
Waymo, Google's self-driving car division, will start testing its new fleet of minivans on public roads in California and Arizona later this month. The minivans, built in collaboration with Fiat Chrysler, are Chrysler Pacifica hybrids outfitted with Waymo's own suite of sensors and radar. Waymo and FCA announced their partnership in May. In a speech at the Detroit auto show Sunday, CEO John Krafcik revealed that Waymo built the sensors, radar and software for the new minivans itself. John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo, the autonomous vehicle company created by Google's parent company, Alphabet introduces a Chrysler Pacifica hybrid outfitted with Waymo's own suite of sensors and radar at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Sunday Waymo's long-range lidar can see a football helmet two football fields away and uses a single integrated system Krafcik said the company felt the system would work better if it was developed specifically for self-driving instead of using off-the-shelf parts.
Hundreds of guests paid $500 each to mingle with some of the world's most exclusive luxury cars during the annual Gallery event in Detroit that kicks off the city's auto show (Jan. Google-run Waymo unveiled its new self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans at the North American Auto Show Sunday. SAN FRANCISCO -- Google's fleet of 100 self-driving Chrysler Pacifica Hybrids is finally ready to hit the road. The white minivans, unmistakable with their bulbous rooflines and protruding fenders, will later this month start adding to the 2.5-million miles of road testing that Google has racked up, beginning first in California and Arizona. The high-tech cars are the result of a partnership between Google and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles that was formed last spring.
Less than a month after officially entering the automotive space as an independent company and announcing its first vehicle, Waymo (the driverless-car company spun off by Alphabet/Google) took the stage at the 2017 NAIAS Detroit auto show to show off its new self-driving platform. And what it had to say could make a profound difference for car companies that feel left out of the self-driving game. The biggest takeaway from the presentation is the company is now making its own hardware for the platform. By taking this step, Waymo can control the development of its hardware hand-in-hand with its software, putting its future in its own hands. While the car on display was a Chrysler Pacifica minivan (one of 100 Fiat Chrysler supplied Waymo as part of a partnership agreement), all of the sensors, cameras and other tools for its autonomous system were developed by Waymo in-house.
Google spin-off Waymo unveiled its fleet of 100 self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans in a preview event ahead of the North American International Auto Show on Sunday (via USA Today). John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo, told attendees at the Detroit event that the fleet packs an array of new sensors that were all developed in-house, including an enhanced vision system, improved radar and laser-based lidar. "We're serious about creating fully self-driving cars that can help millions of people, and to do that we have to oversee both the self-driving software and the self-driving hardware," said Krafcik.The autonomous vehicles are the result of a partnership between Google and Fiat Chrysler that was agreed last spring, and represent the first time Google has chosen to build self-driving technology itself, rather than turn to third-party manufacturers. As a result, Waymo said the company had been able to cut costs by 90 percent. But apart from cutting costs, Krafcik told attendees that building the hardware in-house had allowed the company to develop better technology, such as an improved rooftop radar system, or Lidar, that allows the cars to read more information off the environment.