Google to spin off its self-driving car program

Google to spin off its self-driving car program

Google is spinning off its self-driving car program into an independent unit called Waymo, the company announced Tuesday.

The name stems from its mission of finding “a new way forward in mobility,” according to CEO Jon Krafcik. Waymo will be largely focused on building and testing technology that can be installed into vehicles, as opposed to building its own cars.

“We are a self-driving technology company," Krafcik said at a press conference in San Francisco, according to Business Insider. "We’ve made it pretty clear we are not a car company.”

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Google’s “X” lab began developing autonomous driving technology in 2009, and it was long expected that the self-driving program would eventually become its own entity.

Krafcik said Waymo will still have access to resources from Alphabet, Google’s parent company, but “we also have this feeling like we are a venture backed startup.”

Google announced in October that its driverless car program had driven its test vehicles over more than 2 million miles. The cars have been deployed on public roads in cities all around the country, chosen in part because they represent different types of environmental conditions.

The tech giant also announced Tuesday that it had already completed a fully driverless car ride in Austin, Texas, using a vehicle with no steering wheel or floor pedals. A man who is legally blind was the sole passenger on the trip.

Uber began using semi-driverless cars to pick up passengers in Pittsburgh this summer, while auto companies like Ford have announced plans to build fully driverless vehicles by 2021.