From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Waymo LLC
Industry Autonomous cars
Predecessor Google Self-Driving Car Project
Founded 2009; 9 years ago (2009) (as the Google Self-Driving Car Project)
December 13, 2016; 18 months ago (2016-12-13) (as Waymo LLC.)
Headquarters Mountain View, California, United States
Key people
Website waymo.com
Waymo Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid undergoing testing in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Waymo is an autonomous car development company and subsidiary of Google's parent company, Alphabet Inc. Alphabet describes Waymo as "a self-driving tech company with a mission to make it safe and easy for people and things to move around".

Google began testing self-driving cars in 2009. In May 2018, Waymo announced that it plans to allow everyone in Phoenix, Arizona to request a driverless ride before the end of year.

In 2018, the company placed separate orders for up to 62,000 hybrid-drive Pacifica minivans and 20,000 Jaguar I-Pace electric sedans. The vehicles are intended to help Waymo launch ride-hailing services in various cities, enough to accommodate hundreds of thousands of riders each day.[1]


Google's self-driving car project was formerly led by Sebastian Thrun, former director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and co-inventor of Google Street View. Thrun's team at Stanford created the robotic vehicle Stanley, which won the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge and its US$2 million prize from the United States Department of Defense.[2] The team developing the system consisted of 15 engineers working for Google, including Chris Urmson, Mike Montemerlo, and Anthony Levandowski who had worked on the DARPA Grand and Urban Challenges.[3]

A Waymo self-driving car

Nevada passed a law in June 2011 concerning the operation of autonomous cars in Nevada,[4] which went into effect on March 1, 2012.[5] A Toyota Prius modified with Google's experimental driverless technology was licensed by the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in May 2012. This was the first license issue in the United States for a self-driven car.[5]

In late May 2014, Google revealed a new prototype of its driverless car, which had no steering wheel, gas pedal, or brake pedal, being 100% autonomous.[6][7] and unveiled a fully functioning prototype in December of that year that they planned to test on San Francisco Bay Area roads beginning in 2015.[8]

In 2015, Nathaniel Fairfield, Waymo's Principal Engineer, provided "the world's first fully driverless ride on public roads" to an old friend of his, who is legally blind.[9] Steve Mahan, former CEO of the Santa Clara Valley Blind Center, was the recipient of the first self-driving ride on public roads, in Austin, Texas.[10][11] In 2015, the project completed its first driverless ride on public roads, giving a ride to a sole blind man in Austin, Texas.[10][11] It was the first driverless ride that was on a public road and was not accompanied by a test driver or police escort. The car had no steering wheel or floor pedals.[12]

In December 2016, the unit was renamed Waymo, and made into its own separate division in Alphabet.[10] The name Waymo is derived from its mission, "a new way forward in mobility".[13]

A court filing in Waymo’s ongoing lawsuit against Uber revealed Google has spent over $1.1 billion on the project between 2009 and 2015, to be compared with the $1 billion acquisition of Cruise Automation by General Motors in March 2016, the same investment by Ford in a joint venture with Argo AI in February 2017, or the $680 million for Otto shelled out by Uber in August 2016.[14]

In January 2018, Waymo officials announced that they would begin offering ride-hailing services later in the year, starting in Phoenix, Arizona. As well, the company announced the order of "thousands" more Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans.

In March 2018, Jaguar Land Rover announced that Waymo had ordered up to 20,000 of its planned electric I-Pace cars, at an estimated cost of £1.2 billion.[15] Jaguar is to deliver the first I-Pace prototype later in the year, and the cars are to become part of Waymo's ride-hailing service in 2020.[16] The cars are expected to provide as many as 1 million rides per day.[17][18]

A few months later, in late May 2018, Alphabet announced plans to add up to 62,000 Pacifica Hybrid minivans to the fleet.[19]


A self-driving car with the previous Google branding
A Lexus RX450h retrofitted by Google for its self-driving car project

The Waymo project team has equipped various types of cars with the self-driving equipment, including the Toyota Prius, Audi TT, Fiat Chrysler Pacifica and Lexus RX450h.[20][21] Google has also developed their own custom vehicle, which is assembled by Roush Enterprises and uses equipment from Bosch, ZF Lenksysteme, LG, and Continental.[22][23]

As of June 2014, the system used a map of the area the vehicle is expected to use, with features described to a precision of one inch, including how high the traffic lights are. In addition to on-board systems, some computation is performed on remote computer farms.[24]

In May 2016, Google and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced an order of 100 Pacifica hybrid minivans to test the technology.[25]

Google's robotic cars have[when?] about $150,000 in equipment including a $70,000 LIDAR system.[citation needed] The rangefinder mounted on the top is a Velodyne 64-beam laser. This laser allows the vehicle to generate a detailed 3D map of its environment. The car then takes these generated maps and combines them with high-resolution maps of the world, producing different types of data models that allow it to drive itself.[26]

In 2017, Waymo announced a partnership with Intel to develop autonomous driving technology together and develop better processing.[27]

In March 2018, Waymo ordered up to 20,000 of Jaguar's planned I-Pace electric vehicles.[15]

Road testing[edit]

A Toyota Prius modified to operate as a Google driverless car, navigating a test course[28]

In 2012, the test group of vehicles included six Toyota Prius, an Audi TT, and three Lexus RX450h,[20] each accompanied in the driver's seat by one of a dozen drivers with unblemished driving records and in the passenger seat by one of Google's engineers. By May 2015, that fleet consisted solely of 23 Lexus SUVs.[29]

Google's vehicles have traversed San Francisco's Lombard Street, famed for its steep hairpin turns, and through city traffic. The vehicles have driven over the Golden Gate Bridge and around Lake Tahoe.[3] The system drives at the speed limit it has stored on its maps and maintains its distance from other vehicles using its system of sensors.[30] The system provides an override that allows a human driver to take control of the car by stepping on the brake or turning the wheel, similar to cruise control systems already found in many cars today.[2]

On March 28, 2012, Google posted a video showing Steve Mahan, a resident of Morgan Hill, California, being taken on a ride in Google's self-driving Toyota Prius. In the video, Mahan states "Ninety-five percent of my vision is gone, I'm well past legally blind". In the description of the video, it is noted that the carefully programmed route takes him from his home to a drive-through restaurant, then to the dry cleaning shop, and finally back home.[31][32]

In August 2012, the team announced that they have completed over 300,000 autonomous-driving miles (500,000 km) accident-free, typically having about a dozen cars on the road at any given time, and are starting to test them with single drivers instead of in pairs.[33] Four U.S. states have passed laws permitting autonomous cars as of December 2013: Nevada, Florida, California, and Michigan.[34] A law proposed in Texas would establish criteria for allowing "autonomous motor vehicles".[35][36]

In April 2014, the team announced that their vehicles have now logged nearly 700,000 autonomous miles (1.1 million km).[37]

In June 2015, the team announced that their vehicles have now driven over 1,000,000 mi (1,600,000 km), stating that this was "the equivalent of 75 years of typical U.S. adult driving", and that in the process they had encountered 200,000 stop signs, 600,000 traffic lights, and 180 million other vehicles.[38] Google also announced its prototype vehicles were being road tested in Mountain View, California.[39] During testing, the prototypes' speed will not exceed 25 mph (40 km/h) and will have safety drivers aboard the entire time. As a consequence, one of the vehicles was stopped by police for impeding traffic flow.[40]

Google has expanded its road-testing to the state of Texas, where regulations do not prohibit cars without pedals and a steering wheel.[41] Bills were introduced by interested parties to similarly change the legislation in California.[42]

In August 2016 alone, their cars traveled a "total of 170,000 miles; of those, 126,000 miles were driven autonomously (i.e., the car was fully in control)".[43]

As of June 2016, Google had test driven their fleet of vehicles, in autonomous mode, a total of 1,725,911 mi (2,777,585 km).[44]

Beginning of 2017, Waymo reported to California DMV a total of 636,868 miles covered by the fleet in autonomous mode, and the associated 124 disengagements, for the period from December 1, 2015 through November 30, 2016. [45]

On November 7, 2017, Waymo announced that it had begun testing driverless cars without a safety driver at the driver position.[46]

In March 2018, Waymo announced its plans to build additional real-world self-driving experiments with the company's self-driving trucks delivering for sister company Google's data centers located in Atlanta.[47]


In June 2015, Google founder Sergey Brin confirmed that there had been 12 collisions as of that date, eight of which involved being rear-ended at a stop sign or traffic light, two in which the vehicle was side-swiped by another driver, one of which involved another driver rolling through a stop sign, and one where a Google employee was manually driving the car.[48] As of July 2015, Google's 23 self-driving cars have been involved in 14 minor collisions on public roads,[29] but Google maintains that, in all cases other than the February 2016 incident, the vehicle itself was not at fault because the cars were either being manually driven or the driver of another vehicle was at fault.[49][50][51]

On February 14, 2016 while creeping forward to a stoplight, a Google self-driving car attempted to avoid sandbags blocking its path. During the maneuver it struck the side of a bus. Google addressed the crash, saying "In this case, we clearly bear some responsibility, because if our car hadn't moved there wouldn't have been a collision".[52][53] Some incomplete video footage of the crash is available.[54] Google characterized the crash as a misunderstanding and a learning experience.[55] The company also stated "This type of misunderstanding happens between human drivers on the road every day".[56]

Google initially maintained monthly reports that include any traffic incidents that their self-driving cars have been involved in. Waymo no longer publishes such reports.

Google is required by the California DMV to report the number of incidents during testing where the human driver took control. Some of these incidents are not reported by Google when simulations indicate the car should have coped on its own. There is some controversy concerning this distinction between driver-initiated disengagements that Google reports and those that it does not report.[57]


Because the cars rely primarily on pre-programmed route data, they do not obey temporary traffic lights and, in some situations, revert to a slower "extra cautious" mode in complex unmapped intersections. The vehicle has difficulty identifying when objects, such as trash and light debris, are harmless, causing the vehicle to veer unnecessarily. Additionally, the LIDAR technology cannot spot some potholes or discern when humans, such as a police officer, are signaling the car to stop.[58] Google projects plan on having these issues fixed by 2020.[59]


In 2012, Google founder Sergey Brin stated that Google Self-Driving car will be available for the general public by 2017,[60] and in 2014 this schedule was updated by project director Chris Urmson to indicate a possible release from 2017 to 2020.[61] Google has partnered with suppliers including Bosch, ZF Lenksysteme, LG, Continental, and Roush, and has contacted manufacturers including General Motors, Ford, Toyota (including Lexus), Daimler and Volkswagen.[23]

In August 2013, news reports surfaced about Robo-Taxi, a proposed driverless vehicle taxicab service from Google.[62] These reports re-appeared again in early 2014,[63] following the granting of a patent to Google for an advertising fee funded transportation service which included autonomous vehicles as a method of transport.[64] Paid Google consultant Larry Burns says self-driving, taxi-like vehicles "should be viewed as a new form of public transportation".[65]

In a December 2016 blog post, CEO John Krafcik stated:[66] "We can see our technology being useful in personal vehicles, ridesharing, logistics, or solving last mile problems for public transport" but also that "Our next step as Waymo will be to let people use our vehicles to do everyday things like run errands, commute to work, or get safely home after a night on the town". Temporary use of vehicles is known as Transportation as a Service.

In April 2017, Waymo launched an early rider program in Phoenix, Arizona, which signed up 400 users to try out a test edition of Waymo's transportation service. Over the next year, 400 riders used the Waymo service, providing feedback.[67] In May 2018, Waymo announced that it plans to allow everyone in Phoenix to request a driverless ride before the end of year.[68] [69]

Waymo LLC v. Uber Technologies, Inc. et al.[edit]

In February 2017, Waymo sued Uber and its subsidiary self-driving trucking company, Otto, for allegedly stealing Waymo's trade secrets and infringing upon its patents. The company claimed that three ex-Google employees including Anthony Levandowski stole trade secrets and joined Uber. The infringement is related to Waymo's proprietary LIDAR technology,[70][71] which could measure the distances between objects using laser and create their three dimensional representations.[72] Google accused Uber of colluding with Levandowski to obtain information about it and other technologies in its driverless car project.[73] The company initially alleged that the former Google engineer downloaded 9 gigabytes of data that included over a hundred trade secrets.[74]

The trial began February 5, 2018,[75] and was dismissed on February 9, as a settlement was announced with Uber giving Waymo the equivalent of $244 million in Uber equity and agreeing to ensure Uber does not infringe Waymo's intellectual property.[76] Part of the agreement included a guarantee that "Waymo confidential information is not being incorporated in Uber Advanced Technologies Group hardware and software."[77] Uber maintained that no trade secrets made their way to the ride-hailing company in released statements after the settlement.[78]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Madrigal, Alexis C. "The Most Important Self-Driving Car Announcement Yet". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2018-03-30. 
  2. ^ a b John Markoff (October 9, 2010). "Google Cars Drive Themselves, in Traffic". The New York Times. Retrieved October 11, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b Sebastian Thrun (October 9, 2010). "What we're driving at". The Official Google Blog. Retrieved October 11, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Nevada enacts law authorizing autonomous (driverless) vehicles". Green Car Congress. June 25, 2011. Retrieved June 25, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b Mary Slosson (May 8, 2012). "Google gets first self-driven car license in Nevada". Reuters. Retrieved May 9, 2012. 
  6. ^ A First Drive. YouTube. 27 May 2014. 
  7. ^ Liz Gannes. "Google Introduces New Self Driving Car at the Code Conference - Re/code". Re/code. 
  8. ^ "Google's 'goofy' new self-driving car a sign of things to come". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved 2014-12-22. 
  9. ^ On the road with self-driving car user number one
  10. ^ a b c "Journey - Waymo". 
  11. ^ a b Say hello to Waymo
  12. ^ Encalada, Debbie (December 14, 2016). "Google Confirms First Ever Driverless Self-Driving Car Ride". Complex Media. 
  13. ^ Etherington, Darrell; Kolodny, Lora. "Google's self-driving car unit becomes Waymo". 
  14. ^ Mark Harris (15 Sep 2017). "Google Has Spent Over $1.1 Billion on Self-Driving Tech". IEEE spectrum. 
  15. ^ a b Topham, Gwyn (2018-03-27). "Jaguar to supply 20,000 cars to Google's self-driving spin-off Waymo". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-03-28. 
  16. ^ "Waymo and Jaguar will build up to 20,000 self-driving electric SUVs". The Verge. Retrieved 2018-03-28. 
  17. ^ "Waymo teams up with Jaguar to intro a new, premium self-driving car – TechCrunch". techcrunch.com. Retrieved 2018-03-28. 
  18. ^ Tovey, Alan (2018-03-27). "Jaguar Land Rover lands £1.2bn deal to supply self-driving cars to Google's Waymo". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2018-03-28. 
  19. ^ della Cava, Marco. "Waymo will add up to 62,000 FCA minivans to self-driving fleet". USA TODAY. Retrieved 1 June 2018. 
  20. ^ a b Damon Lavrinc (April 16, 2012). "Exclusive: Google Expands Its Autonomous Fleet With Hybrid Lexus RX450h". Wired. Retrieved April 24, 2012. 
  21. ^ Gibbs, Samuel (2017-11-07). "Google sibling Waymo launches fully autonomous ride-hailing service". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-12-03. 
  22. ^ "Crain's Detroit Business : Subscription Center". crainsdetroit.com. 
  23. ^ a b "Google in talks with OEMs, suppliers to build self-driving cars". Automotive News. 
  24. ^ "The Trick That Makes Google's Self-Driving Cars Work". The Atlantic. May 2014. Retrieved June 15, 2014. 
  25. ^ "Fiat, Google Plan Partnership on Self-Driving Minivans". 
  26. ^ "How Google's Self-Driving Car Works - IEEE Spectrum". Spectrum.ieee.org. Retrieved February 26, 2013. 
  27. ^ "Intel is collaborating with Waymo on self-driving car technology". Business Insider. Retrieved 2017-12-12. 
  28. ^ "The Test Driven Google Car". April 30, 2011. Retrieved November 19, 2012. 
  29. ^ a b Charlie Osborne. "Google's autonomous car injuries: Blame the human". 
  30. ^ Sheikh, Azzam. "Ultrasonic Sensors on Rear Wheels", national.co.uk, December 14, 2014
  31. ^ Angela Moscaritolo (March 29, 2012). "Google's Self-Driving Car Takes Blind Man for a Ride". PC Magazine. Retrieved February 7, 2013. 
  32. ^ Self-Driving Car Test: Steve Mahan. YouTube. Retrieved February 7, 2013. 
  33. ^ Urmson, Chris (August 7, 2012). "Self-driving Car Logs More Miles". Retrieved January 18, 2017. 
  34. ^ Muller, Joann. "With Driverless Cars, Once Again It Is California Leading The Way", Forbes.com, September 26, 2012
  35. ^ "Legislative Session: 83(R) Bill: HB 2932", Texas Legislature Online, May 30, 2013
  36. ^ Whittington, Mark. "Law Proposed in Texas to Require Licensed Driver in Self-Driving Vehicles", Yahoo! News, Fri, March 8, 2013
  37. ^ The latest chapter for the self-driving car: mastering city street driving, googleblog
  38. ^ https://plus.google.com/+SelfDrivingCar/posts/iMHEMH9crJb
  39. ^ Murphy, Mike. "Google's self-driving cars are now on the streets of California", Quartz, June 25, 2015
  40. ^ Smith, Alexander; Hansen, Shelby (November 13, 2015). "Google Self-Driving Car Gets Pulled Over — For Going Too Slowly". NBCNews.com. NBC News. Retrieved November 13, 2015. A Google self-driving car was pulled over by police because the vehicle was traveling too slowly, officials said. The officer in Mountain View, California, noticed traffic backing up behind the prototype vehicle, which was traveling 24 mph in a 35 mph zone, the force said. 
  41. ^ "California's Red Tape Slows Google's Self-Driving Roll". www.yahoo.com. Retrieved 2015-11-16. 
  42. ^ Harris, Mark (25 March 2016). "California lawmaker pushes for driver-free robot car testing on public roads" – via The Guardian. 
  43. ^ Google Self-Driving Car Project Monthly Report August 2016
  44. ^ "Google Self-Driving Car Project Monthly Report - June 2016" (PDF). Google. Retrieved 15 July 2016. 
  45. ^ Autonomous Vehicle Disengagement Reports 2016
  46. ^ "Waymo is first to put fully self-driving cars on US roads without a safety driver". The Verge. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  47. ^ "Waymo's self-driving trucks will start delivering freight in Atlanta". The Verge. Retrieved 2018-03-09. 
  48. ^ "Google founder defends accident records of self-driving cars". Associated Press. Los Angeles Times. 2015-06-03. Retrieved 2016-07-01. 
  49. ^ Urmson, Chris. "The View from the Front Seat of the Google Self-Driving Car". Medium. 
  50. ^ JOHN MARKOFF (October 9, 2010). "Google Cars Drive Themselves, in Traffic". The New York Times. Retrieved August 12, 2012. 
  51. ^ "Human Driver Crashes Google's Self Driving Car". businessinsider.com. August 5, 2011. Retrieved May 4, 2013. 
  52. ^ Davies, Alex. "Google's Self-Driving Car Caused Its First Crash". 
  53. ^ Serna, Joseph. "Passenger bus teaches Google robot car a lesson". 
  54. ^ Press, Associated (9 March 2016). "Google self-driving car caught on video colliding with bus" – via The Guardian. 
  55. ^ "For the first time, Google's self-driving car takes some blame for a crash". 
  56. ^ "The Google car crash was 'not a surprise', US transport secretary says". 14 March 2016. 
  57. ^ Harris, Mark (12 January 2016). "Google reports self-driving car mistakes: 272 failures and 13 near misses" – via The Guardian. 
  58. ^ Lee Gomes (August 28, 2014). "Hidden Obstacles for Google's Self-driving Car". 
  59. ^ "Google Self-Driving Car Chief Wants Tech on the Market Within Five Years". ReCode. 17 March 2015. Retrieved 20 March 2015. 
  60. ^ Donna Tam (September 25, 2012). "Google's Sergey Brin: You'll ride in robot cars within 5 years". cnet.com. Retrieved October 20, 2014. 
  61. ^ Liz Gannes (May 13, 2014). "Here's What It's Like to Go for a Ride in Google's Robot Car". recode.net. Retrieved October 20, 2014. 
  62. ^ Michelle Fitzsimmons (August 24, 2013). "Google may be crafting its own self-driving cars, tinkering with robo-taxis". techradar.com. Retrieved August 25, 2013. 
  63. ^ Billy Davies (January 24, 2014). "The future of urban transport: The self-driving car club". zodiacmedia.co.uk. Retrieved January 24, 2014. 
  64. ^ B1 US patent 8630897 B1, Luis Ricardo Prada Gomez; Andrew Timothy Szybalski Sebastian Thrun & Philip Nemec et al., "Transportation-aware physical advertising conversions", published 2014-01-14, assigned to Google Inc 
  65. ^ Jaffe, Eric (April 28, 2014). "The First Look at How Google's Self-Driving Car Handles City Streets". The Atlantic Cities. Retrieved April 30, 2014. 
  66. ^ Krafcik, John (13 December 2016). "Say hello to Waymo: what's next for Google's self-driving car project – Waymo". 
  67. ^ "Waymo's early rider program, one year in" (Press release). 
  68. ^ ExpovistaTV (2018-05-08), Google i/O 2018: Waymo's Self-Driving Cars Hit The Public Roads., retrieved 2018-05-10 
  69. ^ "Waymo's self-driving car service is launching in Phoenix later this year". VentureBeat. 2018-05-08. Retrieved 2018-05-10. 
  70. ^ "Waymo LLC v. Uber Technologies, Inc; Ottomotto LLC; Otto Trucking LLC". Trade Secrets Institute. Retrieved 2017-03-18. 
  71. ^ "Waymo's Complaint Against Uber". The New York Times. 2017-02-23. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-03-18. 
  72. ^ Larson, Selena. "Uber and Waymo settle trade secrets lawsuit". CNNMoney. Retrieved 2018-06-04. 
  73. ^ "Secrets or Knowledge? Uber-Waymo Trial Tests Silicon Valley Culture". The New York Times. 2018-01-30. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-06-04. 
  74. ^ "I'm not so sure Waymo's going to win against Uber". The Verge. Retrieved 2018-06-04. 
  75. ^ Farivar, Cyrus (5 February 2018). "Waymo: "We're bringing this case because Uber is cheating"". Ars Technica. Retrieved 9 February 2018. 
  76. ^ Farivar, Cyrus (9 February 2018). "Silicon Valley's most-watched trial ends as Waymo and Uber settle". Ars Technica. Retrieved 9 February 2018. 
  77. ^ Larson, 2018.
  78. ^ Lien, Russ Mitchell, Tracey. "Uber reaches settlement with Waymo in dispute over trade secrets". latimes.com. Retrieved 2018-06-04. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]