From there, Waymo was spun off as a freestanding operation with the mission of bringing self-driving, on-demand ride-hailing services to the masses. Transportation as a service promises to be a very lucrative business and Google wants to earn a share of the profits on offer.
Waymo began by converting several hundred Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid vans and putting them into service in Phoenix. It forged a partnership with Magna to build the cars together at a factory in Michigan. And it struck a deal to buy 20,000 Jaguar I-Pace electric SUVs and convert them to self-driving duties. The first of the Jaguars arrived in San Francisco last July. When all is said and done, Waymo intends to have nearly 70,000 autonomous cars in service — one quarter of the entire US taxi and limousine fleet.
In a blog post dated March 4, Waymo expounds at length on the technological marvels of its latest 5th generation self-driving technology which includes 5 lidar units, 29 cameras, and a bunch of radar units grafted onto the roof of the vehicles and sprouting from all four corners in self-contained pods.
The company waxes eloquent about how far each of those sensors can see in difficult conditions such as bright sunshine, moonless nights, fog, snow, smog, and haze. It even features a GIF showing an unlit tractor-trailer crossing in front of a dark night, an eerie and an uncomfortable reminder of the situation that killed Joshua Brown on a Florida highway in 2016.
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