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Waymo Casts Wide Net for Potential Users

Krafcik outlines company's plans.

by on Jan.10, 2017

Chrysler and Waymo have limited their partnership to 100 of the modified minivans.

Waymo plans to target multiple segments with self-driving technology once it is ready for the road, Waymo Chief Executive Officer John Krafcik said during a talk at the annual Automotive News World Congress.

“The first point to keep in mind is we’re not making a car,” Krafcik said. “We’re working on making a better driver, he said.

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Better and safer “drivers” are the key to reducing the staggering number of road fatalities, which are estimated at 1.5 million annually, according to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development.

In addition, self-driving cars will have a measureable impact on the quality of life of older people who are no longer up to the task of piloting their own vehicle, said Krafcik, who keeps in mind the example of his own 97-year-old mother. “We can open up her world,” he said.

(Waymo launches test of all-new autonomous system. Click Here for the story.)

“We’ve done some extensive market research,” he said.  “The reality is we say we love to dirve our but I think that true about 1% of the time,” he said. The rest of the time most motorists have come to believe it is a chore, he said.

Krafcik also said Waymo’s business model call for building software and hardware. The fact is Google’s software engineers start out originally with the idea of developing the software but they found they could not maximize the capability of the off-the shelf hardware they were using.

The the software engineers could extract the capability they needed from the hardware,” he said. Now the hardware engineers sit next to the software engineers work side by side on Google’s Mountain View, California, campus. “It’s really hard for to imagine the hardware and software separately.

(Click Here to check out how Toyota is trying to “humanize” its new autonomous Concept-i.)

Krafcik also said Waymo’s focus diverse markets, including personal transportation, logistics and car sharing. Self-driving could work very nicely with public transportation, he said. “We’ll launch it in a real way. We won’t be launching in all cities in all condition,” he added.

He also praised FCA’s Minivan team, which is producing a series of high-tech vehicles for Waymo. “FCA and the FCA team have been brilliant. It proved to be an amazing It worked out pretty well for us. I know it’s not super It’s helpful for self-driving cars to be electrics or hybrids.

Waymo also wants to keep its LIDAR units on top of the vehicle. Besides becoming one of Waymo’s signatures, they units work better on top of the vehicle.

(Honda’s self-driving NeuV concept could earn you money on the side. Click Here for more.)

“We put them there because that’s the best place for them. It doesn’t make sense to build a LIDAR unit without putting the sensors in the best place for them,” said Krafcik, noting that one of the reason crossovers have become so popular is because drivers believe the cans see the road better from the taller that is characteristic of the design of utility vehicles.

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