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Attraction of $750 million investments

In the middle of May, 2020 reported Google that it attracted about $750 million more to the project of Waymo unmanned vehicles. Thereby the volume of total third-party investments in the company reached $3 billion.

Waymo - the recognized leader in the field of technologies of pilotless driving who successfully expands the technology achievements, - the CEO of Silver Lake, one of investors of Waymo, Egon Durban noted.

Google attracted $750 million more to the project of pilotless cars

Though COVID-19 can slow down development of pilotless vehicles in strongly affected automotive industry, hardly it will be able to slow down Waymo. The pandemic of a coronavirus can accelerate consolidation of the independent technology companies therefore investors consider first of all the companies which, according to them, can be the most probable winners. Among the last investors of Waymo it should be noted T. Rowe Price, Perry Creek Capital, Fidelity Management & Research Company.

Moreover, the CEO of Waymo John Krafcik considers that the pandemic will even help their project, unmanned vehicles can provide safe and hygienic services of delivery and transportation. People review the available options to provide social distancing, and can already appreciate new opportunities of pilotless vehicles. Among other things it is possible to note the growing popularity of "contactless" delivery of everything, from food to new vehicles.

Despite economic difficulties, in Waymo consider that to the middle of May, 2020 not time to cut down expenses. While many companies temporarily suspended road tests, Waymo continues development program and the hardware, trying to take all advantage of the created situation.[1]

Attraction of $2.25 billion for global expansion

On March 2, 2020 Waymo announced attraction of $2.25 billion investments. This money will go for global expansion of the developer of unmanned vehicles.

The companies Silver Lake Mubadala Investment Company, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board took part in a round of financing of Waymo and Alphabet. Besides, one of the largest global manufacturers of automotive components Magna International, the leading car dealer USA of AutoNation and venture fund invested in the company Andreessen Horowitz.

Waymo announced attraction of $2.25 billion investments

AutoNation stated that it enclosed within an initial round of financing of $50 million. How many other external investors sent to the project, it is not reported, as well as their shares in Waymi.

According to the CEO of Waymo John Krafcik, thanks to the investment attraction the company will be able to bring the system of autonomous driving Waymo Driver to the world market.

Waymo for the first time attracted investments from external investors. Thanks to it as Krafchik considers, the company will become more independent. He added that Alphabet will participate further in financing of Waymo along with other investors.

By the beginning of January, 2020 the Waymo robomobiles knurled in total 20 million kilometers in 25 cities and also were tested on 10 billion kilometers in simulators.

Along with receiving $2.25 billion from an investment ditch the company announced start of delivery service of loads by the pilotless Waymo Via trucks. At the first stage the service works at routes along the transport corridor I-10 connecting Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. It is about heavy trucks which Waymo tested on roads of California, Arizona and Georgia, and recently threw to two states: Texas and New Mexico.[2]

2019: The ex-engineer of Google is accused of theft of technologies for pilotless cars

At the end of August, 2019 charge of theft of a trade secret for benefit of Uber was brought to the former engineer of Google Anthony Lewandowski. In the company it worked on unmanned vehicles. Read more here.


Testing of pilotless cars in the city

At the beginning of November, 2017 Google announced the beginning of testing of completely unmanned vehicles on city streets. The company claims that it does it first-ever.

The Chrysler Pacifica minivans without people driving are tested by the Waymo company entering into Google. The venue of this experiment she selected the city of Phoenix (the State of Arizona, the USA). The zone of tests is limited to hundred square miles (about 260 square kilometers).

The Chrysler Pacifica unmanned vehicle which is tested in Waymo

However, during testing the staff of Waymo nevertheless is in salon. They sit down on a back seat of the robomobile, select one of three offered routes, and then the machine brings them to the destination. In case of emergency situation of people can only order to the car to park at  the sidewalk  using the special button, but    not to take over control  using pedals and  a wheel.

On the website Waymo the video (see below) the first trips of self-propelled vehicles is published. On this record it is possible to see how the machine independently moves on city streets, selects a route and stops to pass the pedestrian.

Waymo not casually selected Phoenix as the place of testing of pilotless motor transport. In this region wide streets and the rain and snow here a rarity there are a little traffic jams, almost always sunny, and. However in the company say that the auto pilot is capable to operate safely the vehicle even during a heavy rain.

The company intends to create in short terms service through which residents of Phoenix will be able to call the car without driver through the application for the order of the taxi. At first not everyone passengers, and participants of earlier organized Waymo Early Rider program will be allowed to trips. In the long term Waymo expects to make service public for all users and to begin to levy payment.

Shutdown in transmission function robomobiles management to drivers in difficult situations

At the end of October, 2017 Google announced the termination of development of the technology providing manual control by unmanned vehicles in critical situations. The company explained such solution with dangerous abstractness of drivers at the activated auto pilot.

As the head of department of the pilotless machines Google Waymo  John Krafcik told journalists, during testing of robomobiles in Silicon Valley the volunteers who were taking part in testing constantly distracted during self-propelled driving at a speed up to 90 km/h: girls were painted, someone used phone, there were even those who dozed.

Google unmanned vehicles lost a transmission function of management to the driver in critical situations

Being submerged in the affairs, users in inside of the robomobile became not ready to maneuvers of the vehicle that could lead to unpleasant effects.

According to John Kravchik, the experiment made in 2013 showed that a system which demands from the driver of interception of control of driving using a special signal is not safe. After one of testers fell asleep driving the self-governed machine, Google decided to focus on development of the technologies which are not assuming intervention of the person in management without his personal desire.

What we detected during tests was very frightening. It turned out that it is difficult to intercept management after loss of contextual awareness … Our technology cares for all process of driving that allows passengers to remain passengers — Kravchik said.

As reported by Reuters, car makers implemented function of an auto pilot when driving on high-speed backbones, however the technology requires that the driver undertook management in difficult road situations. Waymo was going to use the same technology, but finally refused it.[3]

Pilotless cars will be mitigated for the sake of rescue of pedestrians

The American company Waymo took out the patent[4] for the invention of technology of mitigation of some elements of the body of the unmanned vehicle. The patent assumes creation of a system of stretchers which will be placed under a flexible covering of the body of the car. If a system defines at the rate of the machine of the pedestrian and will come to a conclusion that collision with it is inevitable, the system of stretchers will be rebuilt so that the body of the car became softer and put as little as possible damages to the person[5].

Many car makers and some companies from other industries are engaged in development of unmanned vehicles which would have high degree of autonomy. Such machines will be able independently to move on the city or even between the cities in the general car traffic, to read out road signs and to follow rules. The existing prototypes of auto pilots can already distinguish pedestrians and cyclists and to give a command for a machine stop if the trajectory of the movement of people and the car is crossed.

Nevertheless, the existing prototypes of auto pilots, as well as drivers people, cannot predict sudden behavior of people or accidents. For example, if the person going on the sidewalk directly before the car slips and will fall to it under wheels, the auto pilot, maybe, will manage to react, but will not manage to stop the machine most likely. On this and other similar cases of Waymo also she intends to create the system of mitigation of some elements of a body of the car.

The patent assumes creation of a system of ropes, linear drives or springs which in a normal status would pull a flexible covering of bumpers, a cowl and wings, giving it the form and rigidity. In case of inevitable collision special drives would weaken ropes or springs so that the tension of a flexible covering fell down and it became softer. A similar system if it is created and will go to serial production, believe in Waymo, will allow to reduce significantly number of the injuries received by the person at zoom-in of the machine.

According to the patent, the bumper, the left and right front wings and a cowl will receive a covering from the special small cells filled with adhesive. What substance will be used, Google in the patent does not specify. This layer of cells with glue will be covered with the thin protective cover preventing sticking to the machine of insects or small animals. At collision the pedestrian will break a protective layer then through a breach glue will at once act and will paste the person to the machine, saving it from falling.

Replacement of Firefly by Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

Waymo officially reported that it is ready to remove the electric vehicles Firefly from test vehicle fleet, having replaced them with pilotless minivans. According to representatives of the company, implementation of technologies of pilotless driving in serially released machines of third-party car makers will accelerate development of a segment of unmanned vehicles. Firefly Google's cars will be sent as exhibits to the museums and also will participate as the show car at different exhibitions and other actions.

File:Waymo PIC.png

Waymo noted that used by Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid company can gather full speed, unlike Firefly which are limited to 40 kilometers per hour (once the Google's car was nearly fined for too low speed). Besides, according to representatives of the company, at the Chrysler minivans more comfortable interior usual to the modern passenger. All Waymo at the moment uses 600 minivans, some of them carry ordinary people within a pilot project.

Testing of the pilotless truck

Google started at the beginning of a year testing of pilotless cargo transport. The truck was developed by the affiliated enterprise of Waymo corporation specializing in automatic control systems.

The car represents the truck equipped with the systems of off-line control. The corporation is sure that emergence on roads of the pilotless truck will allow to reduce the number of transport accidents considerably.

Only one truck which the operator manages manually is created, and there is no automatic working model yet. At this stage there is a check of correctness of work of systems and collecting of necessary road information.

In April Google also started tests of UAVs, transporting real passengers on computer-controlled minivans. Tests passed in the city of Phoenix and its suburbs (State of Arizona). The call of the car is performed through free mobile application.

Claim to Uber

The developer of Waymo unmanned vehicles (Alphabet belongs, to Google parent company) submitted at the beginning of 2017 a claim with charges of theft of technologies to Uber Technologies company and the startup belonging to it for creation of the pilotless Otto trucks[6].

Waymo claims that one of founders of Otto Anthony Lewandowski before dismissal from Waymo downloaded 14 thousand confidential documents connected with technology of a lidar — the sensor which defines provision of objects in space by reflections of light. According to the claim, Levandoski tried to hide traces of the actions.

"Technology of a lidar of Uber company — actually technology of a lidar of Waymo company" — it is told in the claim.

Waymo explained that their developments allowed to make a lidar much cheaper, than at competitors therefore the technology is considered "one of the most valuable company assets". Uber said that take charges to the employees seriously and "will attentively study this question".

2009-2016: Google X - Google Self-Driving Car

The project of unmanned vehicles was developed by division of Google X since 2009. For lifetime of the project in tests were used as modifed production cars of third-party car makers, and the electric vehicle of own development of Firefly ("Glowworm") who for the first time appeared on public roads in 2015. At the end of 2016 the Google Self-Driving Car project became independent company Waymo which is included into Alphabet holding. Waymo was created for commercial application of technologies of pilotless driving in partnership with other car makers, however[7] was known of the future of Firefly Google's cars up to recent time[8].