Fully Autonomous vehicles have been for a long time something out of a SCIFI film. It appears that that is where they will remain, at least for now. This is after Google decided to abandon its earlier announced project to develop a self-drive vehicle with no steering wheel and control pedals.
What is Waymo?
The Google autonomous car was to be undertaken by Waymo, a newly formed company. It was to introduce as an ‘auto-pilot’ kind of vehicle which would have provided a true driver-less experience. The project was to begin in Pittsburgh and then slowly spread out to the rest of the United States.
“We’ve completed the first version of these cars and will get them on the road in the near future,” said Waymo CEO John Krafcik. “FCA has been a wonderful partner.”
A total of 15 engineers had been brought together for the Waymo development. But according to a recent report by The Information, a leading online technology magazine, the project had been abandoned, and Google gave no reasons for the decision.
Although before the cancellation, Reuters had reported that only a limited 100, which were not for sale, autonomous cars were to be developed and that talks were ongoing to bring in other automakers on the project.
What’s next for Google in the vehicle industry
Google will now focus its attention in collaboration with Fiat- Chrysler to introduce a ride-sharing service which will involve 100 Chrysler Pacifica minivans which will be available, according to the report, towards the end of 2017.
The decision to abandon the project is said to have come from Alphabet CEO Larry Page and CFO Ruth Porat, who argued that the production of an autonomous car was impractical and not a priority at the moment.
Reasons for Google abandoning the project
But according to reliable sources inside Google, as crash in September of a test drive of an autonomous Lexus on a Mountain View Road could have also influenced the decision. In this particular accident, a minivan that had jumped a red light at an intersection, T-boned the Lexus, injuring the people that were doing the test drive.
Google reported it as the first major crash since the self-driving cars started being tested. One of the main reasons that Google undertook the self-drive car development was to create a safer driving experience and ultimately safer roads.
Other reports indicate that the project was way behind schedule and was losing out to rivals who seemed to be steps ahead of Waymo.
Research of developing of autonomous cars has been going on for years in Google, despite the fact that Waymo is a relatively new company.
“Our next step as Waymo will be to let people use our vehicles for everyday things like errands, commute to work or get safely home from a night out,” Waymo CEO John Krafcik said about the service.
At the moment Fiat Chrysler is developing a prototype vehicle based on the Pacifica minivan. And if the tests prove to be successful, the vans will be used in the yet to be launched ride-sharing service which was jointly announced early this year in a joint communiqué by the two companies.