GM- and Amazon-backed self-driving outfits are working to overtake Waymo. Experts say the Google spin-off must start expanding if it wants to fend them off.


John Krafcik Waymo

Summary List Placement

From the outside, it’s hard to measure the progress autonomous-vehicle companies make. Most of the self-driving cars on the road today are used only for private tests, and no one has created a metric that can make reliable and robust comparisons between two companies’ automated-driving systems.

Within that context, Waymo, a spin-off of Google’s self-driving-car project, collected an unusually high number of publicly visible milestones in 2020. Already seen by many experts as the industry’s leader, the company took a major step by making rides in driverless vehicles available to anyone using its Waymo One ride-hailing service. (Launched in 2018, Waymo One is the US’ first robo-taxi service, though it’s only available in the Phoenix metropolitan area.) No other company has matched that feat.

“It is a pretty big milestone,” Chris Robinson, a mobility analyst at Lux Research, told Insider.

Read more: Google paid a star self-driving engineer $120 million. Then he quit, joined a rival, and headed to prison.

But Waymo’s 2020 highlights didn’t end there: The company expanded its logistics business by signing partnerships with UPS, for whom Waymo carries packages, and Daimler, which will collaborate with Waymo on self-driving semi trucks. It raised $3.2 billion in its first outside funding round, a sum greater than the total amount of money raised so far by rivals like Aurora Innovation and Argo AI. And it announced a deal to develop robo-taxis with Volvo while publishing detailed reports on its approach to safety and the performance of its vehicles, a rarity in a tight-lipped industry.

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These accomplishments led the trade publication Automotive News to name Waymo CEO John Krafcik its 2020 “all star” for the mobility industry.

The next step? Moving Waymo One beyond Phoenix 

Though four experts who follow the autonomous-vehicle industry told Insider that Waymo …read more

Source:: Business Insider

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