Google parent Alphabet Inc. has recast its self-driving car project into a stand-alone business unit called Waymo, signaling plans to monetize the company’s research efforts on autonomous vehicles.
“We’re a self-driving technology company with a vision to make it safe and easy for people and things to get around,” the Wall Street Journal quoted John Krafcik, the head of Alphabet’s driverless-car project, as saying Tuesday.
The Waymo name stands for “a new way forward in mobility”, Krafcik said.
Alphabet has shown new willingness to work with partners to put its autonomous-driving technology in typical vehicles, signaling that it is not wedded to its vision of futuristic cars that lack steering wheels and brake pedals, the Journal noted.
Company executives have said that they expect the self-driving car project to graduate from the company’s research lab, X, where it had been shielded from commercial demands.
The latest move suggests that the technology is becoming commercially viable.
Waymo has tested prototype vehicles that lack a steering wheel and brake pedals, and Krafcik said the company is lobbying regulators to allow cars without such controls.
Meanwhile, he said the company is likely install its technology in conventional vehicles because of federal rules that require controls such as steering wheels.
Waymo, which is Alphabet’s 12th business unit, claims extensive experience developing self-driving technology, including more than 2 million miles of testing on public roadways in the past eight years.
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