Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL)’s Google Goes All-In Into Self-Driving with Waymo.
Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) has been involved in developing self-driving vehicles since 2009 as part of its [in]famous moonshot projects. The company reported in 2015 that its self-driving cars had logged more than a million driving miles and established an impeccable safety record. But now for the first time, the company has created an independent self-driving car unit and named it Waymo. Waymo will build on self-driving technologies that the company has been developing at its Google X (moonshot) division. Here’s why this moonshot could be the next biggest growth driver for Alphabet Inc and GOOGL stock.
Self-Driving Vehicles Could Go Mainstream Sooner Than You Think
Unlike Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) whose self-driving car roadmap is anything but an open book, Alphabet has been quite clear about its autonomous car ambitions. The fact that the company is going all-in into self-driving at a time when Apple has begun scaling down Project Titan signals greater confidence by Alphabet in the autonomous car concept.
Self-driving cars could actually come sooner than many people think. Lack of a proper regulatory framework has been partly to blame for the slow advancement of the self-driving cars concept. Up until recently, a patchwork of regulation in the U.S. and Europe only allowed for testing of self-driving cars in certain states, cities, and towns.
But recent advancements in the industry could push it forward by several years. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) released new self-driving car regulations in September. Although these are mere guidelines and not rules, they are a clear indication that NHTSA is willing to work with tech to provide tools that make self-driving a reality sooner than the standard 4-8 years that it takes to introduce comprehensive changes.
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Top on NHTSA’s guidelines is safety. Companies that manufacture autonomous vehicles will be required to sign a 15-point safety checklist to pre-certify their vehicles. But the safety of self-driving vehicles is not likely to become a major concern. So far, self-driving cars have proven to be considerably safer than human-driven vehicles. The global safety record of human-driven vehicles across all models is one death for every 60 million driving miles. Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) vehicles have logged more than 130 million miles on Autopilot, with only one fatality recorded. Meanwhile, Alphabet’s autonomous cars have logged a couple of million miles but with only a dozen or so minor accidents with no serious injuries or fatalities yet. Alphabet’s impeccable safety record can partly be chalked up to the fact that it’s self-driving cars have a speed limit of 25 miles per hour.