Over the past few years, we have been reading and hearing a lot about driverless passenger vehicles, and some might have wondered how a computer-controlled ride would feel like in real life. While almost all automobile manufacturers and a few AI-technology companies are in the process of polishing their self-driving prowess, Google’s Waymo has come out in the spotlight with the progress the company has made in its endeavor.
It seems those at the helm of affairs at Google have developed a penchant for autonomous vehicle technology. Even as the Waymo team is busy preparing for an official launch, Larry Page, Google’s co-founder and head of its parent Alphabet, is reaching for the skies. Recently, the pilot-less aircraft developed by a firm funded by Page conducted initial test flights successfully.
The unconventional plane came as a big surprise to those who spotted it, with some describing it as the combination of a small commercial aircraft and a drone. Since it is designed to take off and land vertically, passengers can turn their backyards into temporary airports.
As expected, Waymo has moved much ahead of others in the autonomous car segment. Interestingly, the company chose a unique way to announce the final regulatory approval it has obtained for starting the driverless ride-hailing service – through a video showing people relaxing while enjoying their Waymo ride. Passengers sitting in the backseat of the car, which drives on its own through a street with normal traffic, look ‘bored’ of not having to do anything. Some are seen using their phones.
The pilot-less aircraft developed by a firm funded by Google co-founder Larry Page conducted test flights successfully
The short film featuring a Chrysler Pacificas, which was released after officials in Arizona granted green signal to start the service, gives a vague idea about the experience of riding without a chauffeur (without anyone for that matter!)
It may be assumed from the latest developments that the first pilot-less air-taxi and the first commercially operated driverless car would have Google’s footprint on them.
Meanwhile, Page’s two-seater electric air-taxi project is in the initial stages of the regulatory approval process in New Zealand. It is learned that the initial tests on the craft, which takes off like a helicopter and flies like a drone, were carried out without revealing the name of the company – Kitty Hawk. The project assumes significance considering the fact that others who have made similar attempts in the pilot-less air-taxi segment are yet to taste success.