When Google revealed its self driving car prototype in 2014, it was optimistic considering it represented a new type of public transport system which would be populated with pod-like autonomous vehicles. The company announced yesterday via blog post that it would be retiring the steering wheel free autonomous Firefly prototype in favor of the Chrysler Pacifica minivans that it placed on the road earlier this year.
Dubbed Firefly, Waymo’s compact self driving concept went from being a post it not iteration to a full-fledged two-seater type and became the baseline for the company’s as it advanced self driving technologies.
The camera packed dome and LiDAR at the top of each of the vehicles had been designed and perfected with the use of the miles that had been tracked by the vehicles. According to Waymo’s lead industrial and systems engineer, YooJung Ahn and Jaime Waymo, the firefly project has taken the firm on an incredible journey over the last few years and they are currently considering sharing the self driving history with the world.
They did have their limitations though including the top speed which was sadly limited to just 25 miles per hour. Waymo has opted for the alternative for third party automobile partnerships in order to capitalize on the ongoing capabilities. It also signed up on hundreds of the Chrysler Pacifica minivans and is getting ready to move on to the next phase which is letting members of the public use the self driving vehicles day to day.
However, it is saddening to see one of the most aesthetic self driving iterations retire from the public eye, thus killing off the company’s automotive ambitions. Though, Alphabet seems to be kicking off the revolution and has a head start when compared to the competition when it comes to tech and on road tests, there legal and logistical issues to combat. At the present, the firm is stuck in a LiDAR patent infringement case against Uber that has also made significant moves in the self driving department.
Repercussions of the Decision
The move by Waymo away from Firefly shows parent company Google is definitely moving away from producing its own cars and competing with automakers to instead collaborating with and selling the technology to those automakers that would have been the competition in the first place.
While Google is going to competing with other firms at developing and selling the self driving technology, it definitely has a head start when it comes to the tests and eventually the sale of the technology should be easier than trying to mass produce and sell itself as a brand for self driving vehicles as well.
On the other hand, it is disappointing to see the firm’s first self driving car and its vision disappear to concentrate on already created brands. The vision of the firm included a world where steering wheels were obsolete, as well as gearboxes and brake pedals. The interior would be designed entirely for comfort as opposed to driving. This may become a priority in the near future but for now the traditionalists have a few more years on public roads.