Waymo car short history: Google began working on its self-driving vehicle project in 2009, with the objective of driving independently for ten consecutive 100-mile journeys. Waymo, a self-driving technology startup, was acquired by Alphabet in 2016, and Google’s self-driving project became Waymo.

Google is building the future of road transportation

Since then, Waymo has welcomed the public to participate in the first public trial of autonomous cars driven by the Waymo Driver, as well as introducing its first completely autonomous vehicles driven by the Waymo Driver on public roads without a human driver.

Elements of driverless car technology are already present on the roads

Russ Rader, senior vice president of communications at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, stated that elements linked to self-driving cars are already on our roads. He cited front-crash prevention systems, which have been able to warn drivers of oncoming obstacles for many years and apply the brakes if they don’t respond quickly enough.

These systems were rapidly followed by technology that enables automobiles to self-park by sizing up a free area and automatically driving into it, leaving the driver with just the accelerator and brake pedals to handle.

Mercedes-Benz went autonomous driving a step further with Drive Pilot, which enables the driver to relinquish direct control of the steering and speed in specific situations while still overseeing the vehicle’s overall performance.

Waymo said in 2018 that self-driving vehicles will be ready by 2020. Despite some remarkable advances, self-driving vehicles remain out of reach in 2020, with the exception of a few pilot projects.

Vehicles that will automatically stop for you if they predict an accident, automobiles that assist maintain you in your lane, and cars that can basically manage highway driving are the only technologies now on the market.

The concept behind self-driving automobiles is straightforward: construct a vehicle with cameras that can monitor all of the things in its environment. If the automobile is going to swerve into one, it should respond. After learning all of the driving regulations, in-car computers should be able to navigate to their destination.

In the end, you may conclude that putting these concepts into action has been more difficult than expected.

Waymo’s self-driving vehicles, which are the industry leader in this field, employ high-resolution cameras and lidar (light detection and ranging, which is a way of estimating the distance to another object by bouncing light and sound off things).

This technology aids the self-driving car in determining the location and movement of other vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, and objects.

Will some companies break under the autonomous evolution?

Businesses that do not adapt quickly enough to future improvements in self-driving vehicle technology will face issues, as with the adoption of every new innovative technology. Automakers, suppliers, dealers, insurance, parking firms, and many other car-related businesses are expected to lose hundreds of billions of dollars (if not trillions), according to futurists.

Google's Waymo cars: autonomous transportationConsider the money lost by governments as a result of licensing fees, taxes, and tolls, as well as personal injury attorneys and health insurance.

When accidents are so infrequent, who needs a vehicle with thicker steel and eight airbags? Who needs a parking place near work when your auto can take you there, park itself miles away, and then return to pick you up later? Why pay for a trip from Boston to Cleveland when you can depart in the evening, sleep for most of the journey, and arrive in the morning?

Indeed, one of Google’s objectives is to make car-sharing easier.

As a result, there will be fewer automobiles on the road. There are fewer automobiles, period. Who needs a vehicle when you can order one and it will arrive minutes later, ready to transport you anywhere you want to go?

According to research by Boston-based Lux Research, self-driving vehicles would provide $87 billion in prospects for manufacturers and technology companies by 2030.

A major shift in production

If you’re a carmaker like Ford, GM, Chrysler, Toyota, or Honda, which account for about 70% of the U.S. market, you could see a spike in the $600 billion in yearly new and used vehicle sales worldwide. However, when the technology gains traction, revenues might plummet as sharing becomes more common.

Steel, glass, an interior, a drivetrain, and some type of human interaction will always be required in automobiles (even if that interface is little more than a wireless connection to your smartphone). However, a lot of things might change.

Take front-facing seats, for example; they may become a choice rather than a must. Automakers who anticipate changes, such as how large profits are secured downstream by auto servicers, insurers, and others, are focused as much on services as on what and how they produce.

Infrastructure and safety incentives

Parking lots and spaces that comprise nearly one-third of the land area of major U.S. cities may be reused with fewer automobiles around. As supply grows, this might put temporary downward pressure on real estate prices. If lengthier commutes become more tolerable, it might also imply greener cities and revived suburbs. And, if there are fewer automobiles on the road, federal, state, and municipal governments may be able to reallocate some of the $180 billion spent on highways and roads each year.

Self-driving cars are also predicted to be safer.

“These automobiles aren’t going to become drunk or intoxicated, drive too quickly, or take undue risks,” said Robin Chase, the founder and CEO of Buzzcar, a peer-to-peer car-sharing service, and co-founder and former CEO of Zipcar.

“Today, almost 90% of accidents are caused by driver mistake,” stated Professor Robert W. Peterson of Santa Clara University School of Law’s Center for Insurance Law and Regulation. “There is every reason to expect that self-driving vehicles would decrease the number and severity of accidents, resulting in lower insurance rates, maybe considerably.”

“Cars may still be flooded, destroyed, or stolen,” says Michael Barry, the Insurance Information Institute’s vice president of public relations. “However, underwriting will be dramatically impacted by this technology.” Many standard underwriting criteria will be thrown out the window.”

Injured parties in an accident involving a self-driving car may opt to sue the vehicle’s maker or the software business that built the autonomous capabilities, according to Barry, who added that it’s too early to calculate precisely how self-driving cars would affect rates.

Lower accident liability might initially benefit insurers, however, if fewer automobiles take to the road, they may lose a significant chunk of the $200 billion in personal auto premiums they write each year.

Some experts have even suggested that auto insurance may no longer be required. And, since we’re on the subject of financial services, what about the plethora of banks and creditors that finance around 85 percent of automobile purchases if sales volume falls?

According to a survey from the University of Texas, if just 10% of the vehicles on U.S. roadways were autonomous, about $30 billion in savings might be achieved from less wasted time and fuel, as well as fewer accidents and fatalities. At 90%, the advantage amounts to about $120 billion per year.

Google's Waymo cars: autonomous transportationFreight trucks are next in the Waymo car evolution

Waymo Via, Waymo’s trucking branch, was launched in March 2020. Waymo Driver, according to Google, has been learning to drive huge Class 8 trucks, in the same manner, it has learned to drive passenger cars since 2017. Waymo is testing its truck fleet in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, as well as launching a local delivery pilot program in Phoenix, Arizona.

To incorporate its technology, Waymo has formed relationships with a number of car manufacturers. Waymo and Daimler Trucks will collaborate in October 2020 to develop an autonomous version of the Freightliner Cascadia truck. Waymo’s move into the freight market is its first. Daimler’s trucks will be outfitted with autonomous technology that will enable them to drive without the assistance of a person, but only in pre-determined locations.

Sources: Waymo, Investopedia.

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