Google's autonomous driving spinoff, Waymo, has developed sensors that pair with its self-driving software, potentially opening the door for the company to sell a comprehensive system that automakers build into future car models. Google initially built its self-driving software on a prototype car outfitted with sensors, cameras and other hardware from outside suppliers. But to build a more affordable and sophisticated system capable of fully autonomous driving, the company decided it needed to create both halves of the technology, executives said. The announcement comes just weeks after Japanese automaker Honda said it would incorporate Waymo's technology into some of its vehicles. The companies said that deal was centered on research rather than producing vehicles for market, Bloomberg News reported.
Waymo is launching its first self-driving car service in Phoenix Arizona called Waymo One. Waymo, a subsidiary of Google-parent Alphabet which is developing autonomous vehicles and related services, has officially expanded its reach and is now making some of its self-driving minivans available for customers of ride-share operator Lyft. The rides are restricted to a small area outside Phoenix, where Waymo has been testing self-driving vehicles and has started its own autonomous ride-share service, Waymo One. Waymo's limited partnership with Lyft is the latest example of the company branching out to work with more companies as it develops autonomous vehicles and services. Earlier this month, Waymo struck a deal with Nissan and Renault to build self-driving vehicles for those automakers.
An Uber Technologies self-driving test vehicle like the one that hit a pedestrian in Arizona on Sunday night. SAN FRANCISCO -- One of the country's top self-driving car experts says that a recently released dashcam video suggests a failure of technology is at issue in the fatal Uber self-driving car incident that killed an Arizona woman. "The car's LiDAR (light ranging and detection laser system) should have picked the pedestrian up far before it hit her," says Raj Rajkumar, who leads the autonomous vehicle research team at Carnegie Mellon University. "Clearly there's a problem, because the radar also should have picked her up throughout, she was moving," he says. "Maybe it's the sensors not working correctly or the hardware that processes it, or the software."
Sad news, quirky car enthusiasts: Waymo is taking its fleet of tiny self-driving vehicles off the roads. The autonomous car company announced it will retire the Firefly, the round-topped two-seater that served as the most obvious visual marker of Google's self-driving car efforts long before the Waymo brand was on the scene. The prototype was introduced to the public back in 2014, when it offered awe-struck Californians a first-hand look at the future of autonomous transportation. The Firefly, with its one-of-a-kind steering wheel and pedal-free design, was instrumental in the development of Google's self-driving tech, logging millions of test miles rolling along at 25 mph. "By designing and building a truly self-driving vehicle from scratch, we were able to crack some of the earliest self-driving puzzles -- where to place the sensors, how to integrate the computer, what controls passengers need in a car that drives itself," the Waymo team wrote in the blog post commemorating the Firefly's retirement.
Ford Motor Company is partnering with Walmart and Postmates to study how consumers would handle self-driving cars making deliveries to their doors. Self-driving vehicles have been expected to bring all kinds of futuristic benefits, including smarter cities and safer streets and highways. But some U.K. researchers have identified a potentially more risqué repercussion of the autonomous vehicle revolution: more sex in cars since no one has to be behind the wheel. More than a dozen automakers and companies such as Uber, Lyft and Alphabet's self-driving car company Waymo have been testing autonomous vehicles. While some accidents have slowed those tests, overall safety is expected to be enhanced with autonomous net-connected vehicles, with researchers estimating up to 90 percent of traffic accidents could be avoided, U.K. researchers Scott Cohen, a tourism and transport professor at the University of Surrey, and Debbie Hopkins, a geography and environmental researcher University of Oxford, write in the Annals of Tourism Research.