Google says that its Waymo self-driving division will develop autonomous technologies for established automakers but could also use the tech in its own future car projects.
During a presentation at the Detroit Auto Show, chief executive of Waymo John Krafcik said that while Waymo is only currently working with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Honda, it does intend on collaborating with additional marques.
Interestingly, Krafcik said that Waymo is only developing systems capable of Level 4 autonomy. This means that vehicles can drive and steer themselves without any human intervention but can’t do so in extreme environments as achievable with Level 5 autonomy.
Nevertheless, Waymo is confident that it can play its part in improving road safety and help to reduce the number of lives lost on the roads every year.
Speaking with Autocar, Krafcik said “Each year more than 1.2m people die on roads – that’s the equivalent of a Boeing 737 falling from the sky every hour of every day all year long. Then there are the people who can’t drive – 20m in the USA alone. Plus, we send an average of 50 minutes a day commuting – that’s the equivalent of 162 lifetimes wasted per day. Then there’s the fact an average car sits idle 94% of the time.”
So far, Waymo’s autonomous prototypes have driven over 2.5 million miles on public roads and every year, over one billion miles of testing is done in the company’s simulator.
“We’re thinking beyond a single-use business model. We’re bringing to market a self-driving platform that makes getting around safely easy for everyone. Some projects we may do alone and some we may do with partners. We’re mastering hardware and software to build a better driver for a fully self-driving car,” Krafcik concluded.