Posted: 04/27/2017 - Views: 486

Google Autonomous Cars to Get Their First Real Riders

Google Autonomous Cars to Get Their First Real Riders | kvjournal.ru
After almost a decade of research, Google’s autonomous car project is close to becoming a real service.

Now known as Waymo, the Alphabet Inc. self-driving car unit is letting residents of Phoenix sign up to use its vehicles, a major step toward commercializing a technology that could one day upend transportation.

For the service, Waymo is adding 500 customized Chrysler Pacifica minivans to its fleet. Waymo has already tested these vehicles, plus other makes and models, on public roads, but only with its employees and contractors inside. By opening the doors to the general public with a larger fleet, the company will get data on how people experience and use self-driving cars — and clues on ways to generate revenue from the technology.

“We’re at the point when it’s really important to find how real people, outside the Google environment, will use this technology,” Waymo CEO John Krafcik said. “Our goal is that they will use this for all their transportation needs.”

Waymo is letting people across parts of the Phoenix metropolitan area apply for the service as part of an “early rider program.” Initial users will be able to book Waymo’s minivans using an app, but won’t have to pay. Dollars will flow eventually, Krafcik said, yet he declined to share details. The company is signing up hundreds of people with diverse backgrounds and transportation needs.

Google is a pioneer in autonomous cars, launching its research program in 2009. After mostly ignoring the project for several years, the auto industry has recently rushed to catch up, pumping billions of dollars into similar technology and engineering talent. A bevy of newcomers have joined too, including some founded by former Waymo engineers, making the field incredibly competitive before anyone has made money.

“We expect (this) announcement to be just one of a series of technological, strategic and commercial initiatives by Alphabet to position Waymo as a strong competitor to established ride sharing firms,” Adam Jonas and other analysts at Morgan Stanley wrote in a note to investors on Tuesday.

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Posted and Edit by kvjournal.ru 04/27/2017