Google stablemate Waymo gave a sneak preview of its newest car self-driving system ahead of the start of the Detroit motor show yesterday. A Chrysler Pacifica equipped with the most up-to-date auto-drive technology was unveiled by Waymo boss John Krafcik at a press briefing in the US city.
He explained that the flagship Chrysler model featured state-of-the-art hardware and software with enhanced sensors. He carried on by saying Waymo’s own developers had revamped vision systems and laser-based lidar apparatus.
Mr Krafcik added that the team had also cut the cost of producing lidar units to approximately US$7,500 (£6,150). This is about a tenth of the price of previous units but still does not match the US$200 (£164) Quanergy and Velodyne LiDAR say they will eventually be able to make smaller ones for.
Waymo’s boss said Chrysler Pacificas incorporating these latest self-drive improvements would be road-tested on highways in California and Arizona later in January. He would not be drawn on when the technology would actually be available for use in production line models.
Last December, Waymo was born out of Google’s self-driving vehicle project and is an abbreviation of the ‘new way forward in mobility’. It is now a separate entity to Google and comes under the umbrella of parent company Alphabet Inc.
The stated goal of Waymo is to make vehicle self-driving systems available to Joe Public before the end of 2020. The developer could have its work cut out to be the first as the UK’s Delphi Automotive and Mobileye NV from Israel say they jointly developing a system which could be on sale as soon as 2019.