Ten million miles, or 16 million kilometers in autonomous mode, that’s what Waymo has accumulated since 2009. Every day, Waymo cars drive another 25,000 miles (40,000 kilometers), and you can see them at any day or night time. I keep encountering them on weekends or 6:40am. With that, Waymo has achieved such a head-start which is so large that one can only pity competitors.
According to the Waymo-blogpost the focus of the first 10 million miles was on developing the technology and making it safe. The next 10 million miles are now focusing on driving comfort. Waymo has been learning how shoppers, for instance, are preferring to shop, While they want to be dropped of at the entrance of the supermarket, they want to be picked up with their goods at the shopping cart return, but not at the supermarket entrance.
Also addresses may now always be exact, an entrance door may be around the corner, or in front of stairs, but not at a pass through. All those little details are now given more focus.
Which reminds of an interview that I’ve seen some time ago with the U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps. He said that for years he trained everyday, even Sundays, and even at Christmas. When he looks at his competition, they have a day off on Sunday. And that means, that he has spent 50 days per year more on training than his competitors. And that intensity wen can see with Waymo.
Waymo-CEO John Krafcik responded to the question, when Waymo is officially launching its robotaxi service, that he feels that they already launched. Not with a big bang. But the company is slowly giving access to more riders. And in the past days the signals of a larger rollout haven been intensifying.
An interesting detail was that Waymo is reworking its sensor suite, to make them working under all weather conditions. A focus is now on automatic cleaning. Not only have waymo cars driven 10 million miles in real life, they have also reached 7 billion miles (11.2 billion kilometers) in the simulator. Eighty percent of learning and improvements are no coming from the simulator.
For the competition the gap seems to increase. Because this is an exponential development, every increase in gap is even larger than one might think. The only option for most car makers seems to become a partnership with Waymo.
This article has also been published in German.