When we talk about Alphabet, the parent company of Google, we immediately think of products such as Google Search, Android or even YouTube. However, in addition to its digital activity, Alphabet has many other subsidiaries. And among the most promising subsidiaries, there is Waymo, formerly 'Google Car', which has been developing its autonomous cars for years.
In the United States, Waymo's self-driving cars are already on the road and even transporting passengers through a service called Waymo One that is available in a few cities. However, until now, autonomous driving without a driver on board was only possible on roads, not highways. But that changes today.
A technical feat
“Waymo will begin testing its fully autonomous passenger cars without a human driver on Phoenix highways to soon help Waymo One riders get where they are going safely and efficiently”, announced the subsidiary of Alphabet, on its website.
Until now, to travel on a highway, Waymo autonomous cars had a specialist on board, as a safety measure. But from now on, these vehicles will be able to travel completely autonomously on highways. Initially, Waymo will only transport its employees, as part of the tests, in the city of Phoenix. But, later, self-driving cars will also be able to transport Waymo One customers on highways.
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Towards expansion in the United States ?
The possibility of using highways will shorten journeys. And at the same time, eliminating this constraint will allow Waymo to expand its Waymo One service to other cities. In any case, with this announcement, the Alphabet subsidiary confirms its position as leader in the field of autonomous cars. And at the same time, it proves that his approach, which consists of progressing slowly but surely, was the right one. Waymo has often been criticized for the slow development of its autonomous driving technologies. And the fact that its driverless vehicles avoided highways was also criticized.
“Before we expand, we make sure we have a comprehensive understanding of the environment we plan to operate in and the capabilities of our system”, explains the company. “Waymo's years of experience driving cars and trucks on highways have taught us how to autonomously navigate everyday scenarios and inform our approach to safely responding to rare events .”
- Waymo already offers an Uber competitor that operates cars without drivers, but until now they have avoided highways
- But that changes today as Waymo cars will begin driving without drivers on the highways of Phoenix, United States
- Later, these highway trips will be offered to customers
- Waymo has often been criticized for the slow development and testing of its autonomous technologies
- But the announcement demonstrates that its strategy pays off in the long term
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