Autonomous DrivingGooglewaymo

Waymo – Google Autonomous Driving

Contrary to recent popular perception that Alphabet (aka Google) was backing away from its autonomous driving efforts (apparently the first of the so-called Google-X projects), last month the company announced the formation of Waymo as a separate entity  under the Alphabet umbrella. The name is derived from its mission to find “a new way forward in mobility.” You can find some good coverage of the details from TechCrunch here and from Forbes here. According to the Forbes article, Waymo CEO John Krafcik announced that the company has designed and built its own complete sensor suite, processing system and software in order to produce a fully automated driver stack- and that a fleet of Chrysler Pacifica hybrids are the first vehicles equipped with Waymo’s dedicated sensor suite- all  completely engineered and manufactured in-house by Waymo. The same Forbes article also reveals that while previous generations of Waymo’s test vehicles used a medium range LiDAR sensor, the  Pacifica now has three types of LiDAR that operate at short, medium and long ranges, all designed by Waymo. Equally important, Waymo claims to have slashed the cost by 90% from the first off-the-shelf sensors it used which cost more than $75,000. This would seem to put them in the same ball park cost of the Velodyne Puck VPP-16 Lidar systems which retail at $6999 according to the company’s website. However a direct comparison of features versus cost requires further details on the Waymo LiDAR systems. The Waymo sensor package also includes a set of 8  vision modules (cameras, one supposes) plus a radar system, making it one of the most comprehensive packages available today….