It was founded in 2017 by the academics Shimon Whiteson and João Messias. Waymo hopes the company's expertise can be put to use teaching AI drivers how to deal with complex behaviour such as a car cutting off another at a roundabout, a pedestrian emerging from a parked car, or a cyclist skidding in rain. The Alphabet subsidiary is also intending to use its new base in Oxford to build a second pool of AI talent outside its headquarters in Mountain View, California. The UK is a world leader in AI research, including autonomous vehicles, and many talented researchers will not or cannot relocate to the US – no matter how deep the recruiter's pockets. Whiteson, who will continue to work as a professor of computer science at Oxford, added: "By joining Waymo, we are taking a big leap towards realising our ambition of safe, self-driving vehicles. In just two years, we have made significant progress in using imitation learning to simulate real human behaviours on the road. I'm excited by what we can now achieve in combining this expertise with the talent, resources and progress Waymo have already made in self-driving technology."
Waymo, the Alphabet subsidiary that hopes to someday pepper roads with self-driving taxis, today pulled back the curtains on a portion of the data used to train the algorithms underpinning its cars: The Waymo Open Dataset. Waymo principal scientist Dragomir Anguelov claims it's the largest multimodal sensor sample corpus for autonomous driving released to date. "[W]e are inviting the research community to join us with the [debut] of the Waymo Open Dataset, [which is composed] of high-resolution sensor data collected by Waymo self-driving vehicles," wrote Anguelov in a blog post published this morning. "Data is a critical ingredient for machine learning … [and] this rich and diverse set of real-world experiences has helped our engineers and researchers develop Waymo's self-driving technology and innovative models and algorithms." The Waymo Open Dataset contains data collected over the course of the millions of miles Waymo's cars have driven in Phoenix, Kirkland, Mountain View, and San Francisco, and it covers a wide variety of urban and suburban environments during day and night, dawn and dusk, and sunshine and rain.
The company insists it will not be rushed. That's a glaring contrast to Uber's hard-charging efforts, which skidded to a halt after one of its self-driving test cars killed pedestrian Elaine Herzberg in Tempe, Arizona, in 2018. It's also notably different from Tesla, which incrementally updates its "Autopilot" software for cars that are already on the road, while casually reminding drivers that "Autopilot" doesn't mean the car is fully autonomous. Waymo's more measured approach could indeed be a savvy move: The Edelman Trust Barometer shows that consumer confidence in autonomous vehicles is low. In this year's edition of the survey, only 54 percent of respondents in 27 markets worldwide said they trust AVs.
The Lone Star State may become a little lonelier -- at least when it comes to big-rig trucking. Waymo, the self-driving vehicle division of Google parent Alphabet, is about to start mapping in Texas and New Mexico as a prelude to testing its self-driving big-rig trucks. The mapping minivans, to be followed by the large trucks, will run primarily along Interstates 10, 20 and 45 and through metropolitan areas like El Paso, Dallas and Houston, the company said. Waymo previously mapped and tested its big rigs in Arizona, California and Georgia. The latest move will add to that footprint as the company moves toward its vision of big rigs rolling down interstates with no one at the wheel, their sensors and computers making them safer than if they have a human in control.
Google-run Waymo unveiled its new self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans at the North American Auto Show Sunday. SAN FRANCISCO -- Eight years and two million miles after Google began to build self-driving car technology, it's ready for passengers. Waymo, the search giant's renamed autonomous car company, will begin taking applications Tuesday from Phoenix-area residents who want to be among the hundreds of riders testing out an expanded fleet of Chrysler Pacifica Plug-In Hybrid minivans outfitted with Waymo's myriad autonomous car sensors. Select Phoenix residents have been testing Waymo's self-driving car service for the past few months, in anticipation of Waymo's announcement that it will make 600 Pacificas available to a few hundred testers in the Phoenix area. A range of automotive and technology companies have said they aim to produce self-driving cars for ride-hailing programs by around 2020.