At the start of this month, Waymo passed 6 million miles in autonomous driving mode, and barely one moth later the 7 million mile mark is hit. Shaun Stewart, Waymo’s Chief Business Development Officer, revealed that at the Innovfest Unbound conference in Singapore. Waymo is accelerating its efforts, and if we can extrapolate, then Waymo will reach at least 15 million miles by end of this year.
And that is necessary, as the Google sister company has big plans. The company announced to deploy over 80,000 robotaxis on public roads within the next two years, Most of them in the Phoenix area, San Francisco / Mountain View and maybe also Europe. The first test drives were done this week in the vicinity of Turin.
Driving as many miles on public roads is required for improving the technology and test it under real life conditions. Improvements come in stages. While the first challenges may be easy to solve, most often the team runs into roadblocks that keep it from improving for a long time. Once those challenges are solved, there is some improvement until the next hard problems are coming up.
At a certain development level it helps to use many cars to catch more and more of the fringe problems and driving situations. Many cars help to smoothen smaller glitches in regular driving and the system improves more and more. This process becomes self-accelerating, and exponential.
And that is exactly what this little announcement from Waymo tells us. The company is accelerating improvements of its technology. And thus increases the gap to its competition.
This article has also been published in German.