Waymo, the self-driving division of global technology giant Google, appears to be leaving other companies in the dust when it comes to autonomous vehicle development – according to new reports out of the US.
CNBC reports that Waymo, owned by Google’s parent Alphabet, is charging ahead of companies like Ford and Tesla in its driverless vehicle development. The most recent data (from six months ago) shows the firm had driven 635,867 miles (1,023,328km), with the average failure rate sitting at 5127 miles (8251km) per disengagement – the moment when the human supervisor must re-take control to prevent an incident.
Meanwhile, Ford – which plans to introduce its driverless fleet around 2021 – had only driven 590 miles (949km), with a failure rate of 196 miles (315km) per disengagement. It is worth noting, however, that these numbers are specific to California, and Ford does much of its testing in Michigan.
Above: Ford Fusion with autonomous sensor systems
Google has driven over 1000 times more miles autonomously in California than the US automotive giant, with other companies like Tesla (550 miles, 3 miles/disengagement) and Mercedes-Benz (673 miles, 2 miles/disengagement) also lagging behind.
Earlier this week Ford’s Smart Mobility chief, Jim Hackett, was promoted to the CEO role after former boss Mark Fields retired, hinting that the Blue Oval is wanting to put more focus on driverless technology, especially considering the company was so bold in its forecast of a 2021 introduction for its autonomous ride-sharing fleet.
According to the report, Waymo has a fleet of around 60 autonomous-capable vehicles – which includes the Chrysler Pacifica people mover (top) – while Ford only has a pair of Fusion sedans (known here as the Mondeo).