THE Google driverless car unit rebrands as Waymo, under a re-branding exercise according to reports in Reuters.
The change in name suggests Google wants to finally monetise the company’s valuable research amid strong competition from rivals all vying to be the first to launch production-ready self-driving cars.
Google’s high-profile programme, now in its seventh year, has been at the forefront of self-driving technology, but is now challenged by similar technologies from Uber and Apple, and traditional car companies in the fast-growing industry.
The self-driving programme had been part of secretive research unit called Google X. Not any more. According to CEO John Krafcik, Waymo stands for “A new way forward in mobility.” And the technology would be production-ready “soon”.
Krafcik said that Waymo has no interest in producing self-driving cars, but rather in developing the technology to drive them. Possible applications would be in ride-sharing, transportation, trucking, logistics, and personal use vehicles.
John Krafcik was hired to lead the unit in September as CEO, replacing former Chris Urmson, the former head of the unit, who was being retained as technical lead.
Krafcik has significant automotive experience and is a former CEO of Hyundai Motors America.