by Mish

The nay-sayers have been proven laughably wrong given Google’s New Self-Driving Minivans Will Hit the Road by the End of January 2017.

Waymo, the self-driving car startup spun-off from Google late last year, will be deploying its fleet of self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans onto public roads for the first time later this month, the company announced at the North American International Auto Show today.
The minivans will be hitting the roads in Mountain View, California and Phoenix, Arizona, where the company’s self-driving Lexus SUVs have already driven thousands of miles over the past few years. Also today, Waymo gave the public its first look at the self-driving Pacificas, which have been under wraps since the deal between Google and Fiat Chrysler was first announced back in May 2016.
Waymo says that for the first time, its producing all the technology that enables its cars to completely drive themselves in-house.
This allows the company to exert more control over its self-driving hardware, as well as bring the cost down to ridiculously cheap levels. In a speech in Detroit, Waymo CEO Jeff Krafcik said that by building its own LIDAR sensors, for example, the company was shaving 90 percent off its costs. That means sensors that Google purchased for $75,000 back in 2009 now only cost $7,500 for Waymo to build itself.
Velodyne, a top supplier of LIDAR, retails its sensors for $7,999. But by building its own (or contracting out the manufacturing), Waymo is able to get LIDAR sensors to its exact specifications.
When it spun off Waymo in early December, Google essentially conceded that it was dropping its plan to build its own car, instead refocusing its efforts on making the hardware and software needed to power self-driving. It may be too soon to say that Google is abandoning its plans to build a fleet of driverless cars without steering wheels and pedals. Previously, Krafcik made it clear that Waymo “is not a car company, there’s been some confusion on that point. We’re not in business of making better cars, we’re in the business of making better drivers.”

Waymo Minivan Arrives

Mom Have the Car Pick Me Up

Think about that headline for a second. Also consider seniors who do not like to drive at night and millennials who prefer not to own a car.

All the talk of no need, no desire, etc. gets thrown out the window.

Yes, we still need national regulation. But I expect legislation will be here by 2020-2021 at the latest.

Goodbye Trucking, Taxi, Limo Services as Known Today


I now update my timeline from 2022-2024 to 2020-2022 for millions of long-haul truck jobs to vanish. And that’s a very conservative date.

Taxi service will follow soon after trucking, if not simultaneously.

If you are a long-haul truck driver or airport transport driver, your days are numbered.

Those who said sensors would drive the cost to $80,000 were more than a bit off. Also see point 2 above.

Those who say cars can’t handle snow, old men on roller skates, or kids veering into traffic need consider point 3 above.

Those who say theft will be easier are not thinking at all.

Those who said such technology was decades away were dead wrong.

Hugely Deflationary

This technology is extremely disruptive and hugely deflationary.

OT: I posted a new photography image today on a breaching humpback whale: Iceland in 16 Days: Day 8, North Iceland, Husavik, Whale Watching

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Naysayer Reality Check: Waymo’s Self-Driving Taxi Debuts in Phoenix, for Free

Every time I do a post on self-driving vehicles, readers respond that it cannot happen and won’t happen for a decade, if ever.

Google, Chrysler Team Up on Minivans; GM, Lyft Test Self-Driving Electric Taxis

It appears my allegedly optimistic path for self-driving vehicles on the roads by 2020 may not have been optimistic enough.

Second-Order Consequences of Self-Driving Vehicles

Benedict Evans, a blogger who works for a venture capital firm that invests in technology, has an interesting article on the shift to electric and self-driving vehicles.

Self-Driving Myths Die Hard; Fear of Change; What Does the Future Hold?

Myth: Self driving vehicles will not work well in rain or snow. Reality: Vehicles operate perfectly well in snow.

Can the Electric Grid Handle Self-Driving Electric Trucks?

In response to some of my recent posts on self-driving and electric vehicles, several readers asked if the electric grid could handle the increase.

Ford Targets 2021 for Mass-Market Self-Driving Car: 2021 a Near Certainty

According to Ford’s just announced plans, my 2022-2024 target for mass deployment of self-driving vehicles in the US is right on target if not overly pessimistic.

Self-Driving Vehicles and the Failure to Understand Capitalism

Despite accelerating progress towards fully autonomous cars and trucks, many people still do not accept the obvious fact it’s going to happen soon.

Self-Driving Shuttle Starts Operation in Lyon France in September

Just this week a truck driver informed me that autonomous trucks are at least “decades away”.

Uber Offers Driverless Rides This Month! What About Snow, Rain, Pigeons

Earlier today, Uber announced that a Self-Driving Fleet Arrives in Pittsburgh This Month.