Nearly a month ago, Google announced the reimagining of their self-driving car efforts by introducing a company called Waymo with a focus to “make it safe and easy for people and things to move around.” It seems as though the company’s efforts are now starting to pay off as the first wave of Chrysler Pacifica minivans tricked out with Waymo’s various sensors and technology will be hitting the roads by the end of this month, according to The Verge.
Waymo, the self-driving car startup spun-off from Google late last year, will be deploying its fleet of self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans onto public roads for the first time later this month, the company announced at the North American International Auto Show today.
Locations where the minivans will begin driving around autonomously include Mountain View, California, and Phoenix, Arizona. Interestingly, Waymo was able to produce all the technology this time around found in their minivans rather buying separate parts from other OEMs. This includes the cameras, sensors, and even the mapping technology. This is done in part due to the cost of the equipment going down as top retailer Velodyne used to sell LIDAR sensors (the same sensors Waymo uses for their vehicles) for $75,000 back in 2009 but has now been able to shave the cost down to just $7500. Waymo was able to conquer the same feat by building the technology to the same exact specifications and therefore can begin developing for themselves rather having to depend on partners alongside save some cash. This goes for both short range and long range sensors, allowing the cars to see objects near and far at a given moment. It’s worth noting that Waymo says they don’t wanna become a car part distributor, however, as that’s not their target audience.
Touching more on vehicles, it doesn’t look like Waymo will be making their own, as we learned last month. Instead, the company will focus on partnerships with other companies such as Honda to supply them with cars. The company’s current partner, Chrysler, who has built 100 vehicles for Waymo to develop upon, may even allow a possible ride-sharing service like Uber and Lyft between the two companies to take shape, but take this with a grain of salt as details regarding what the future bestows for either company remain scarce.
As always, if further developments surface regarding this story, we’ll let you know. In the meantime, if any of you in Mountain View, California and/or Phoenix, Arizona happen to spot one of Waymo’s vehicles in the wild, take a picture and send it in to us @MBEDDEDMaximum on Twitter or firstname.lastname@example.org.