Self-Driving Cars

Accelerating Self-Driving Cars with Waymo

This article is largely an abstract from a story that originally appeared in It Is Innovation (i3) magazine, published by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)®.

Overview Waymo Chief Operating Officer Tekedra Mawakana shares her how the company is transforming the self-driving experience.

In the midst of the current coronavirus outbreak, self-driving technology company Waymo managed to raise $3 billion from investors in a month.

In a climate where contactless options are preferred, driverless ride-sharing and delivery options, such as Waymo One and Waymo Via, provide safe and efficient methods to keep lives running.

As Waymo’s chief operating officer, Tekedra Mawakana — who serves on the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)® Board of Industry Leaders — oversees operations, business development, communications and more for Waymo.

She shared her insights on the future of self-driving technology with CTA’s It Is Innovation (i3) magazine.

How are self-driving vehicles being deployed in the context of COVID-19?

While we’ve yet to realize the long-term effects of this pandemic, we can imagine that society’s view on sharing space with a human driver may forever change.

For Waymo, removing the human driver holds great promise for making our roads safer, helping people stay healthy, and enabling both people and things to get where they need to go.

During this time, we’re also leveraging our fleet to facilitate charitable donations to a half dozen different charities in the Metro-Phoenix area to deliver personal protective equipment, food and school supplies to people and organizations in need.

How does Waymo differ from other self-driving vehicles?

Our fifth generation Waymo Driver, which incorporates custom-built sensors — including LiDAR, camera and radar — uses a comprehensive view of its surroundings and a detailed understanding of its environment to accurately reason about its next move. No one type of sensor on its own can provide that level of detail in all operating conditions, so we've developed a single integrated system to give our Driver a comprehensive view of the world to safely navigate complex environments.

What is the role of data? Can it help improve the consumer experience?

Data is critical to building safe, reliable and trusted services — regardless of what the Waymo Driver is moving around. We’ve been fortunate to leverage expertise and infrastructure at Google and across Alphabet.

Ultimately, the most critical element of the consumer experience in a self-driving vehicle is safety, and sophisticated, high-quality data is crucial to making that possible.

It’s also important that we make parts of our approach visible to consumers. A rider in a Waymo One vehicle might not see the millions of lines of code that underpin the Waymo Driver but they do see parts of what the vehicle sees. As you ride in the backseat of a Pacifica or an i-Pace, being able to see the 360-degree view of what the vehicle sees around you — from pedestrians and cyclists to upcoming intersections — is crucial to building comfort and trust.

Read more about Tekedra Mawakana and Waymo’s work with self-driving cars and technologies in the full article on i3 magazine.

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It Is Innovation (i3) magazine, the flagship magazine from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)®, focuses on innovation in technology, policy and business as well as the entrepreneurs, industry leaders and startups that grow the consumer technology industry.

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