Google’s – actually Alphabet Inc’s – autonomous subsidiary Waymo is working its way towards the planned autonomous future, when all cars will be able to drive themselves and save countless lives.
Well, while many predict we’re going to see fully autonomous cars roaming the streets in production form as early as 2020, we as specialists know this isn’t going to be possible that fast, even if people would adopt them in a heartbeat. There are numerous aspects to iron out – from regulatory hurdles (no one is going to introduce autonomous cars and be denied their use) to safety aspects, chief among them the clash between robot cars and those owned by regular folk that are quite old and… entirely manual. Automakers, suppliers and technology companies are hard at work to handle all details, and Waymo is well known for its implication and experience – having gone through extensive testing when it was just a Google project.
Today the company is emphasizing its fleet of 600 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid cars, which are even giving on a trial basis free rides in ride-sharing autonomous mode to speed up development. According to a recent patent filling, these might become obsolete in the near future, because Waymo wants a new way of protecting pedestrians. The technology would be able to change the stiffness of the front crumple zone – hood, bumper and panels. A series of tension cables are used and the AI would detect if an impact involves a pedestrian – loosening them up and allowing the car to absorb more energy from the impact.