3 Reasons Waymo Leads the Self-Driving-Car Race

Jackson Lewis, Associate Editor

Waymo self driving car

waymo self driving car

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. -- Waymo, Google’s self-driving-car company, has been working on autonomous vehicle (AV) tech since 2009, but it’s closer than ever to making driverless transportation a reality for everyday consumers.

In 2012, the company started testing how the cars handled in real city streets, complete with pedestrians, cyclists and other hazards. By the end of 2012, Waymo already had 300,000 self-driven miles on the books.

Fast forward to today, and Waymo is closer than ever to bringing AVs to everyday consumers. This will inevitable affect convenience stores as drivers become passengers and the very idea of vehicle ownership evolves.

Click through for three reasons why Waymo is among the leaders of the AV charge …

Photo courtesy of Waymo. 

1. Corporate partnerships

waymo pick up for errands

The self-driving car firm recently entered into a few corporate partnerships to put more passengers in its vehicles, most notably with Walmart and its Chandler, Ariz., location.

The retailer is footing the bill for a self-driving chauffeur service for a select group of Waymo’s 400 daily users. These users can place online orders through Walmart.com to summon a self-driving Waymo vehicle, which picks them up and brings them to Walmart to get their order. Once there, a Walmart employee loads the car and the passenger is whisked away.

Does the passenger have to be present for this errand? No, but that’s not the point of this partnership. Beyond testing self-driving cars, Waymo is making itself even more visible through this and other partnerships.

After all, wouldn’t you be jealous if, after spending an hour collecting your groceries at Walmart, you saw one of your neighbors simply roll up in a self-driving car, accept some groceries and roll away? Waymo is making its product desirable to consumers who may not have even considered the reality of AVs.

Photo courtesy of Waymo. 

2. Hitting the road

waymo minivan driving

Waymo was able to launch its service with Walmart because it has done the necessary work on the back end. The company recently announced that its cars have physically driven themselves more than 8 million miles.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company rolled out its early rider program in 2017 as a public trial to introduce people to the technology. The program is now underway in the Phoenix metropolitan area, which includes Chandler, Tempe, Mesa and Gilbert.

Also, Waymo partnered with car manufacturer Jaguar this year to make an electric self-driving vehicle, the Jaguar I-PACE. The goal is to add up to 20,000 I-PACE vehicles over the next few years, which would be enough cars to log about 1 million trips in one day.

Photo courtesy of Waymo. 

3. Charm offensive

waymo family pick up

Google’s self-driving car company is not the only AV tester making strides, but by most standards it leads the pack.

GM is considered another AV leader. It is testing its cars in San Francisco but has revealed less about its tests than Waymo. Uber recently restarted its AV testing after one of its cars accidentally and fatally struck a pedestrian crossing the street, but the cars are still manually driven by a human. Other car and tech companies are in the race, too, from Ford and its $4 billion investment in its self-driving unit to Apple’s largely secretive tests.

But what likely sets Waymo apart from its competitors is that the company seems so gosh-darn friendly. Its website is packed with pictures of smiling families in their cars. Waymo has a director of safety in its c-suite. Its little white Firefly vehicles are downright cute. With a charm offensive as effective as Waymo’s, it’s not hard to see why it is pulling ahead of the pack.

Photo courtesy of Waymo.