"A new way forward in mobility"
That's what Waymo, a just-announced Alphabet company, stands for. Spun out from under Google's wing (Alphabet is Google's parent company), Waymo will now steer the search giant's self-driving car dreams forward.
Waymo doesn't consider itself a car company, but rather "a self-driving technology company" that wants to make it safer and more convenient for people to get around. While it will continue to operate its fleet of self-driving cars, Waymo says (opens in new tab) it wants to commercialize its technology, building "products that can help millions of people."
To that end, it doesn't sound as though Waymo will create its own vehicles for mass production, but rather partner with established car makers to integrate self-driving tech into their autos. Waymo says it still plans to put modified minivans developed with Fiat Chrysler on the road, for example.
Whether its technology is used for personal vehicles, ridesharing services, trucking or public transportation, Waymo sees no limit to how self-driving can improve our daily lives.
And that reality doesn't sound too far off: at a press event today, Waymo CEO John Krafcik said the team feels confident it's close to delivering on its promise, as reported by Business Insider (opens in new tab).
Despite its lofty goals, the road ahead for Google, er, Waymo's self-driving car tech won't be as ambitious as first conceived, at least to start.
Rather than plopping those cute koala cars with no steering wheel or pedals on public thoroughfares, Waymo's vehicles will continue to have both as well as be operated by a human driver. Self-driving tech will be a feature of the vehicles, reports Business Insider.
Waymo's welcome comes after an earlier report suggested Google would be abandoning its plans to build a self-driving car bumper-to-bumper, instead sourcing its sensors and software to major car makers.
The company says its next step is "to let people trial fully self-driving cars to do everyday things like run errands or commute to work", bringing a new thrill to mundane tasks.
Waymo eventually wants to achieve full vehicle autonomy, when occupants can take their eyes off the road and let the car do all the work, but with little things like regulations still to be worked out, that may not happen anytime soon.
But with eight years of Google expertise and over 2 million self-driven miles on real-world roads under its belt, Waymo is well equipped for what comes next. The way forward is self-driving, and Alphabet's latest big bet is determined to get us there.