Google is spinning its autonomous driving project into a new stand-alone business under parent company Alphabet amid reports that, like Apple, it will turn its focus to software rather than auto manufacturing.
Company officials this week announced the debut of Waymo, which, analysts said, signaled that Google is prepared to shift from testing its self-driving technology to commercialization.
John Krafcik, a former Hyundai executive who joined Google in August and will lead Waymo, wrote in a blog post that the new company envisions applications for personal vehicles — saving hundreds of thousands of lives lost on the road each year — as well as ridesharing, public transportation and logistics.
"In the long term, self-driving technology could be useful in ways the world has yet to imagine, creating many new types of products, jobs, and services," Krafcik wrote.
Google spent years developing and testing its own autonomous prototype vehicles under its Google X division, but a report prior to the announcement suggested that the tech giant intends to focus on deploying self-driving systems in conventional cars instead of building its own vehicles.
The report, from tech website The Information, also indicated that Waymo is discussing building a minivan ridesharing service. Google earlier this year announced plans to build about 100 self-driving Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans.
“We’ve been really clear that we’re not a car company,” Krafcik said, according to The New York Times. “We’re not in the business of making better cars. We’re in the business of making better drivers.”