Just a few weeks back, Waymo got the thumbs up to start testing its self-driving cars in Arizona without the need for a human "safety net" behind the wheel. Wonder what it's like to ride in one? This morning at SXSW, the company released a video showing off the experience had by the first few riders. The folks in the video up above are part of Waymo's "Early Rider" program -- in other words, folks who opted in to riding without a safety driver. Waymo CEO John Krafcik said that around 20,000 people around Phoenix, Arizona had signed up.
Honda R&D and Waymo are in discussion over self-driving car tech. Honda is in discussion with Google's autonomous vehicle division Waymo about integrating self-driving technology into Honda vehicles. Honda said the technical collaboration between researchers at its Honda R&D subsidiary and Waymo's self-driving technology team would allow both companies to learn about the integration of Waymo's fully self-driving sensors, software and computing platform into Honda vehicles. As part of the deal under discussion, Honda could provide Waymo with vehicles modified to accommodate Waymo's self-driving technology. These vehicles would join Waymo's existing fleet, which are currently being tested across four US cities.
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 spokeswoman Alexis Georgeson said the company plans to hire up to 400 people to work at the factory, including engineers, operations experts and fleet coordinators. She said Waymo is looking for a site and hopes to open the plant in the middle of this year. A memo from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. says Waymo will create 100 jobs, with the potential for up to 400, and it chose Michigan despite a "high level of interest" from states in the Midwest, South and Southwest.