skip to Main Content

Media post: Waymo’s New Look More Than An Image Makeover

Credit: Wikipedia

The reaction was mixed when Google finally released its first self-driving prototype in 2014.

The vehicle, which wouldn’t look out of place in the Pixar Cars movie, certainly wasn’t the futuristic design that many expected.

In an interview with Forbes, designer YooJung Ahn claimed that this was the company’s conscious choice. Because the vehicle was only capable of reaching speeds of 25mph, the company wanted to reduce driver’s expectations.

The fleet of friendly Fireflies – Google’s nickname for the prototypes – racked up millions of test miles. However, not long after, Ahn revealed that the vehicles were to be retired.

As a result, it became clear that Google was focusing solely on the self-driving technology itself, not becoming a car manufacturer.

The company’s director, John Krafcik, first suggested this over Christmas at the launch of Waymo.

“We’ve been really clear that we’re not a car company. Although, there’s been some confusion on that point.”

The important shift In Google’s focus

Source: Waymo

Initially, there were rumors that Google would build  ‘robot taxis’. This was due to Google’s first goal to manufacture their own vehicles and self-driving software.

Consequently, there was increased concern amongst car manufacturers that Google would dominate the market.

However, Google’s shift in focus has meant that hardware companies are falling under their radar. As a result of this, more car manufacturers are willing to collaborate with the company.

This allows driverless technology to be brought to the market at a faster rate.

Why the shift in focus?

One of the main reasons behind Google’s direction change seems to be due to money.

Google’s spending in 2015 was double that of 2014. Most of the losses were because of failed commercial projects, such as Google Glass.

As a result, it became important for the company to meet strict financial targets moving forward.
Therefore, the company’s change of focus has been a way to reduce risks and losses. It also allows Google to receive a faster return on their investment.

Google’s newest self-driving vehicle, the Chrysler mini-van, emphasizes Google’s desire to lower expenditure. Self-drive technology is integrated into an existing and practical car model.

Not only has this saved by reducing costs on aesthetics, but Google can focus their expertise on the technology. Because of this, Google’s software has been able to progress rapidly.

Not just Google taking this approach

Source: Waymo

Google aren’t the only ones putting the brakes on their self-driving aspirations. Apple recently announced that it would also be focusing on self-driving technology.

Previously, Apple had planned to manufacture their own vehicle as well.

So, it looks more likely that regular car manufacturers will continue to design cars and integrate self-driving tech into them.

Whether you are interested in self-driving technology or happy to keep trading standard automatic or manual cars, keep an eye out. This step into the future is closer than what we think.

Leave a Reply

Back To Top