Waymo – Google’s Self-Driving Car Company

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Google has taken its autonomous vehicle project to a new level and has created a subsidiary company named Waymo to continue to work on the technology and vehicles. Waymo’s mission is to make it safe and easy for people to get around. Since 2009, Google’s autonomous cars have been self-driven for more than two million miles, and have an additional one billion miles in simulations!

Recently, Waymo announced that last year it had successfully completed a 10-minute self-driving ride around the city of Austin, Texas (a state that does not require a driver behind the wheel) without a driver, steering wheel, or brake pedals. The rider was a legally blind man who has not been able to travel alone for years.

There is a great deal of attention on autonomous, semi-autonomous, and driver-assisted vehicles. Almost every major automotive company is investing in the technologies either directly or with partners. While there is still a lot of work to do on the vehicles, maps, and regulations, Boston Consulting Group estimates that this will become a $42 billion industry by 2025.

Even more important, the new technologies will help cut down on the more than one million traffic deaths that occur around the world each year. Now that’s a technology that benefits everyone on the road.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Show the video of the Austin ride:

https://www.wired.com/video/meet-the-blind-man-who-convinced-google-its-self-driving-car-is-finally-ready

  1. Bring up Waymo’s Web site for students:

https://waymo.com/

  1. In teams, have students review information about the company and technology. What are their opinions about the company and self-driving vehicles.
  2. Next, discuss the components of a situation analysis: company, general industry, trends, key competitors, technology, legal, etc.
  3. Have each team use laptops to do general research to answer the questions above. (ex: overview of industry, size, growth, new technologies, environmental impact, etc.)
  4. Debrief the exercise by compiling information on the white board. Does this give a good picture of the situation faced by Waymo?

Source:  Wired, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, other news sources

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