Google spins off autonomous car project, now known as ‘Waymo’
Google parent Alphabet has renamed its autonomous car project ‘Waymo’ as the initiative graduates into a standalone business.
The search giant’s Alphabet X ‘moonshot’ division had been investigating the technology for several years, developing software that was deployed on a fleet of modified Lexus crossovers and later with an in-house developed car. Company drivers have tallied more than two million miles to push the technology forward.
Coinciding with the spinoff announcement, The Information claims the company has halted development of its own autonomous car in favor of partnerships with established automakers. Perhaps not coincidentally, the project recently experienced a leadership shakeup and is now under the direction of former Hyundai Motor America chief executive John Krafcik.
Google previously hinted that it was gravitating toward a fleet of autonomous ride-sharing vehicles, essentially a driverless service to rival Uber and Lyft, rather than selling cars directly to consumers.
The project has already inked a deal to modify 100 Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans to expand its autonomous testing program. Separate reports suggest Hyundai is involved in talks that could lead to deeper collaboration.
Waymo will still operate as a subsidiary of Alphabet, but with more independence as it attempts to become a profitable business in the coming years.