Earlier this month Google’s self-driving car arm branched out of the company’s X labs to become a direct subsidiary of Alphabet, called Waymo. The new company is led by CEO John Krafcik and will operate independently under Alphabet’s umbrella. As for Waymo’s objectives, it’s been previously reported that the company intends to launch a (self-driving) ride-sharing service with Fiat Chrysler, and according to an even newer report, Waymo is also currently in talks with Honda for plans on developing self-driving vehicles.
Before Google’s self-driving car branch became Waymo, news broke that the company intends to rethink its approach towards the concept of self-driving vehicles, and supply its autonomous driving technology to existing car manufacturers as opposed to creating a full self-driving experience. This was later confirmed by the news that Waymo and Fiat Chrysler are working on a ride-sharing service, and sure enough, Waymo CEO John Krafcik recently claimed that his company expects to eventually utilize self-driving technology for operating ride-hailing networks. Fast forward to yesterday and Waymo has revealed that it is now in talks for a partnership with Honda. Assuming that the two companies will collaborate, Honda is expected to supply Waymo with an unspecified number of vehicles for retrofitting with self-driving technology. It also remains to be seen where these vehicles will be used, but it’s interesting to note that Honda is not entirely new to the self-driving car game. Earlier in June this year, Honda unveiled not only a series of self-driving car prototypes in Concord, California, but also its own test track for self-driving vehicles.
It’s also interesting to note that, previously, Google’s self-driving car branch hasn’t had a lot of success in finding partners in the automotive industry. Reportedly, so far carmakers have been reluctant towards a partnership with Google to avoid losing their brands to the Californian giant, but it would appear that car manufacturers might be more open to collaborations now that Waymo intends to supply self-driving technologies to other companies as opposed to building a full autonomous experience. At the moment, Waymo is testing its self-driving cars in four cities in the United States, including Mountain View, California; Kirkland, Washington; Phoenix, Arizona; and Austin, Texas.