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26 Oct 2022
Waymo Plans to Launch a Self-Driving Car Service in LA
Waymo, the self-driving car company created by Google's parent company Alphabet Inc., recently announced its plans to launch its self-driving service in Los Angeles.
The announcement follows Waymo's recent push to begin testing autonomous cars without safety drivers on public roads, the first time testing was allowed on open roads without an in-vehicle driver monitoring the car's activities.
However, Waymo's only service currently is restricted to the East Valley region of Phoenix, AZ. Industry analysts have questioned the company's lack of advancement and its effectiveness.
"When we think about our next cities, Los Angeles jumps out. LA is a remarkable, vibrant place – and Waymo's experience leaves us best positioned to tackle its driving complexity." Said Waymo's co-CEO Tekedra Mawakana.
Waymo said it has already begun driving around the city to collect mapping data. Humans drive cars while sensors collect information on crosswalks, road edges, curb heights, and intersections.
Once it gathers permits and feedback, Waymo will start testing with only Waymo employees as riders. After that comes public testing. As for when those milestones will be achieved, the company wouldn't provide even a rough timeline.
Even in 2012, when it was still known as Google's self-driving car project, Waymo assured the public and press that the technology was coming rapidly. "Fully self-driving cars are here," former CEO John Krafcik said at the 2017 Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal, where he presented a video of a man who fell asleep in one of the Waymo vehicles. "It was not happening in 2020; it's happening today."
Anthony Levandowski, a well-known and often controversial self-driving vehicle engineer who helped to establish Waymo's self-driving program before renaming it, believes that the lack of progress within the industry, as shown by his experience with Waymo, shows that the market won't be a viable option anytime soon.
I still don't think we'll have any serious presence, Levandowski added. If the lack of progress I've seen in the past five years with Waymo is indicative of the lack of progress of this whole industry, the world is a long way off from a truly self-driving world.
After raising $2.25 billion in its first round of external funding in March 2020, Waymo said it raised $3.2 billion in external funding after an extension to that round in July 2020. Last year, it raked another $2.5 billion from backers, including Alphabet and Andreessen Horowitz.
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