27 October 2016
Google parent Alphabet Inc. is graduating its self-driving-car project from its research lab X into a standalone operation, said X chief Astro Teller. The Google autonomous standalone business will be a major step in the vehicles’ path to commercial operations.
The car group’s finances were separated from X on Jan. 1 this year, and now the team is completing a series of corporate and legal moves to become its own business. The google autonomous standalone business will have to manage on its own, so the car group would likely be expected to begin generating revenue soon, though not necessarily a profit at first.
Mr. Teller said Alphabet will likely roll out its self-driving cars incrementally over the next several years as they improve with more time on the road. For example, the group could choose to launch the cars commercially in just a handful of cities with favorable roads and weather, before expanding to more challenging roadways and climates. Any other company that’s acting rationally will probably do the same thing, which is finding constrained ways to roll out so that we’re learning safely,” Teller said.
Other companies building self-driving cars are deploying their technology gradually, though in many of those cases the auto firms are releasing semiautonomous technology that still requires drivers to be ready to take control. Mr. Teller said Alphabet’s cars will be fully autonomous from the start. “You press a button and tell the car where you want to go,” he said.
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