Waymo Loses Its CEO...and Its Way?
In what has to be considered a surprise to the autonomous vehicle industry, John Krafcik the CEO of Waymo, announced in a blog post that he is stepping down from his position. Originally started by Google over a decade ago, and run by Krafcik for more than 5 years, Waymo is considered to be the leader in the self-driving field, so losing its leader will no doubt initiate speculation about the state of the technology.
Certainly, there have been many delays along the way to fully-autonomous vehicles. Waymo does not have any deals with automakers to use its technology (aside from small pilot projects), and it has only launched a very preliminary self-driving robo taxi service in Phoenix, AZ, called Waymo One. Hardly the stuff of autonomous dreams ruling the road.
The rollout of self-driving vehicles is taking longer than nearly anyone expected. Why? Because while the fundamental technology exists to turn any vehicle into something that can drive itself down the road, getting it to do so in a way that most people would find palatable has been much more difficult. Whether the horizon of such an introduction was stretching too far into the future for Krafcik or whether he (like so many of us) has simply reset his personal priorities after 12 months of a pandemic remains to be seen.