The race for tomorrow’s automated autonomous car just got hotter with Google displaying its improved version of the technology.
Ahead of the much awaited Detroit auto show, Google unveiled its latest autonomous automated car technology mounted in a Chrysler Pacifica minivan, during a preview ahead of the auto show.
Google, a pioneer of this technology, has now stated that self-driving tech is more reliable and more importantly more affordable.
The announcement was made by John Krafcik, head of Google’s Waymo unit.
Google’s search for partners to develop and install its autonomous driving technology into cars have so far resulted in an alliance with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
A deal with Honda Motors is pending.
Highlighting the coming age if future vehicles, Krafcik said Waymo’s latest batch of autonomous hardware and software, includes an array of sensors such as laser-based lidar, enhanced vision system, and much improved radar, all of which have been developed and built in-house.
Significantly, Waymo has managed to slash the cost of a single lidar unit by as much as 90% to about $7,500.
Major suppliers of this technology, including Quanergy Systems Inc and Velodyne Lidar Inc both have stated that smaller versions of solid-state lidar units are currently being developed which could sell for as little as $200.
Krafcik said Waymo’s existing test fleet of self-driving cars have accumulated almost 2.5 million miles in city roads in a span of eight years.
According to Krafcik, this month Waymo plans to test the first self-driving Pacificas on public roads in Arizona and California. He did not mention when the system could be ready to install in a production product line.
Mobileye NV and Delphi Automotive Plc have said they are collaborating on a autonomous system which they plan on selling to automakers in the beginning of 2019.
BMW, General Motors and Ford Motors have said they plan on introducing self-driving cars in 2021.