Waymo, the former Google self-driving project that spun out to become a business under Alphabet, has driven 8 million miles on public roads using its autonomous vehicles.
Waymo CEO John Krafcik shared the company’s milestone Friday while onstage with Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval at the National Governors Association conference in Santa Fe, N.M. The figure is notable when compared to where Waymo was less than a year ago. In November, the company announced it had reached 4 million miles, meaning the company has been able to double the number of autonomous miles driven on public roads in just eight months.
Waymo’s fleet of self-driving vehicles are now logging 25,000 miles every day on public roads, Krafcik said. He later tweeted out the stats along with a graphic. Waymo has 600 self-driving Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans on the road.
The company also relies on simulation as it works to build an AI-based self-driving system that performs better than a human. In the past nine years, Waymo has “driven” more than 5 billion miles in its simulation, according to the company. That’s the equivalent to 25,000 virtual cars driving all day, everyday, the company says.
Google wants to personalize and enhance the driving experience more than ever via its Android Automotive embedded operating system, and a big part of the excitement at its Google I/O 2018 developers’ conference this week is around its plans for the connected car, particularly around AI and voice-powered experiences.
Previewing what’s next for Android Auto, Google executives talked up visual templates for car dashboards that feature “a fresh new design [that] enables media apps to make their content more accessible,” as announced at I/O. The goal is to make browsable content visible as soon as an app is opened on the car dashboard.
Ready for a completely driverless taxi cab? Riders in the Phoenix area will have the chance to summon a fully autonomous, self-driving vehicle when Google’s Waymo launches its ride-sharing service later this year, the company announced.
Waymo launched a pilot program last year, but has until now relied on vehicles that still have “operators” ready to take control in an emergency. And volunteers got to use the service for free. With the approval of Arizona regulators, it will soon start charging riders who will be able to summon a vehicle using a smartphone app, much like competitors such as Uber and Lyft. Those new vans will operate driverlessly.
“As we continue to test-drive our fleet of vehicles in greater Phoenix, we’re taking all the steps necessary to launch our commercial service this year,” a Waymo spokesman said.