Google’s New Self Driving Car Company: Waymo

By Ariel Kaplan.

We have fridges with doors that automatically open when you step near them, scanners that instantly analyze the nutritional information of different foods, and alarm clocks that release fragrances such as the ocean to try and wake you up, but no one predicted an era of cars capable to guide themselves without human conduction.

On December 13, Alphabet, Google’s parent company, said that its autonomous vehicle project was spinning off from its research lab X and would operate as a stand-alone company under the name Waymo. With their decision to spin out Waymo, the company is confident that their self-driving technology has advanced beyond research project status and is ready for commercialization.

SHS senior Oliver Hu says he finds self driving cars to be extremely scary.

“I would not like to be whipped around at high speeds at the mercy of a robot,” said Hu.

But with the ability of computers to improve over time combined with advancements in sensor technology, autonomous vehicles could become a typical sight on the roads over the next few years.

“As we look at this space and the opportunities ahead of us, we so much,” said John Krafcik, chief executive of Waymo, according to a writer for the New York Times.

“We’re a new company, but we’ve been at this for a while,” he added.

Autonomous vehicles are a contested field of technology, pursued by other tech giants who see the potential of self-driving cars to completely change the automobile industry.

“I’m all for improving technology because it makes people’s lives easier and in this case it seems to make their lives safer,” said senior Clara Cook.

“However, I think that this new feature might pose a problem for humans being self sufficient. I can’t imagine a world in which people do not know how to drive, but one might present itself if cars become entirely machine operated,” she added.

Although a difficult and rather time-consuming approach, Google’s goal was to design a vehicle that is responsible for 100 percent of the driving. Google says this is “ultimately safer than semi autonomous vehicles,” which may require a driver to take back control of the car without awareness of their surroundings.

Additionally, Waymo says they intended to equip its driverless system on vehicles without steering wheels or pedals because they didn’t want people to feel as though they needed to monitor the car, but currently, government regulations prohibit this from occurring.

Senior Jonathan Dickerman says that while self driving cars are an interesting and new frontier, their development is still primitive.

“Given that they are intended to be used on public roads in everyday life, society must modify the roads and laws to coordinate with the driverless vehicles,” he said.

“While they are a step toward the future, I am doubtful that our hopes of someday never having to drive will come to fruition,” added Dickerman.

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