Google’s Self-Driving Cars Will Hit The Streets By The End Of The Month
By the end of January 2017, Google is set out to deploy its fleet of self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans. For some time now, people have been made accustomed to the idea of seeing driverless cars zipping up and down the highway, as well as in or around city streets. And even though the technology is new, extensive testing has been carried out on these self-driving cars for many years now.
Their main purpose is to seriously lower the number of deaths taking place on the road every single day. On average per year, some 1.2 million people lose their lives around the world as a direct consequence of car accidents. And the overwhelming majority of these accidents is caused by human negligence. And this negligence comes in a variety of forms: inexperience, fatigue, talking on the phone while driving, falling asleep at the wheel, and many similar others.
In turn, a self-driving car doesn’t need to be perfect; it just needs to be better than a human driver and have none of the above mentioned “defects”. And as you might have expected, researchers are constantly looking at ways to improve on the design, so things will only get better and better.
Waymo is the name of the company which focuses solely on Google’s self-driving cars. Waymo is, in fact, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc. which itself is an American multinational conglomerate, created and run by the founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin. By the end of January, their minivans will start appearing in Mountain View, California and Phoenix, Arizona; cities where self-driving Lexus SUVs have been tested for years.
The biggest difference now is the fact that Waymo will develop the whole technology, and will no longer buy it from others. This technology includes the sensors, cameras and mapping apps. This new development will make the cars far cheaper than before. For instance, the sensors Waymo bought back in 2009 at a cost of $75,000, will now cost just $7,500.
“Today, we’re sharing a first look at the completed vehicles, equipped with our latest Waymo self-driving technology, including our suite of updated sensors, all-new computer and other major system updates,” writes John Krafcik, CEO.
“Just a few years ago, a single top-of-the-range lidar cost upwards of $75,000. Today, we’ve brought down that cost by more than 90%,” Krafcik said. “As we look to scale, we will do even better, with the goal of making this technology accessible to millions of people.”