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Google spins off self-driving car efforts into new Alphabet business, Waymo

Google has spun off its self-driving car (SDC) efforts in a new Alphabet (Google’s parent company) business called Waymo.

In a post introducing Waymo, John Krafcik noted that since 2009, Google SDC prototypes have spent the equivalent of 300 years of driving time on the road.

Since the early days of the project, our work has been shaped by feedback we’ve heard from the communities that will most benefit from self-driving cars. Our next step as Waymo will be to let people use our vehicles to do everyday things like run errands, commute to work, or get safely home after a night on the town.

—John Krafcik


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I have followed the self-driving efforts by Google and Apple quite closely. And finally it is clear what their strategy is in this field. Google said it most clearly during their announcement of Waymo by saying “We are not in the business of making better cars but in the business of making better drivers”. Apple has done the same. This year Apple fired all people employed to make an Apple car. However, they have doubled their efforts of making the software that will make any car fully driverless.

As bizarre as it sounds many of the old automakers have no clue about how to make their own driverless software so they will go to Google and Apple and buy a turnkey solution to make their cars driverless. On the other hand both Apple and Google has realized that making a car is really difficult and requires massive factories that are able to transform millions of tons of raw materials into cars. It is not like making smart phones where a relatively small factory can make a million phones per month. Also there are 10 times more regulation to obey when making a car than when making a phone. Moreover, if Google and Apple make a car and sell it in volume they will compete with other car makers and that means the business of selling driverless software to other car makers will be compromised by conflicts of interest.

I am not saying that Google and Apple will never make their own driverless cars but I am saying it is not going to happen anytime soon. It will take 5 years to prepare for volume production of a car and they both cancelled all their preparations in this regard. I think if Google or Apple decides to become a car manufacture they will buy an existing car maker that is selling a lot of BEVs already.


The profit margin is a lot better with Smart Phones and accessories and selling ADs than with BEVs. It remains to be seen if equivalent profit margins can be attained with driverless vehicle hardware and software?

Apple-Samsung-LG-Motorola etc may find ways to better use their Smart Phones in ADVs systems?


There is no need for Google and Apple to make the cars, they just have to specify the sensor arrays and write the control software.
Just like they did with Android.
There should be plenty of money to be made from selling ads to people sitting in their cars surfing the web so google might be able to give the car OS away very cheaply (maybe not at the very start, but soon, within a year or two).
I do not think the cameras or radars will cost very much and even Lidar seems to be getting cheaper (Velodyne), so we might find that we have AD cars much cheaper than expected.

It is a bit like Video calling: this was always "in the future" and expensive when the telcos proposed it, then Skype did it over the web - for free.

We might see something like this happening with Google ad cars.

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