Waymo unveiled its latest test model, the Chrysler Pacifica last month. Now, the CEO John Krafcik disclosed this Sunday at the North American Auto Show’s Automobili-D conference that the renamed Alphabet division for autonomous cars built a full sensor suite explicitly for its self-driving minivans. Besides creating entirely new LiDAR sensors, the company’s extensive R&D also minimized the cost of individual sensors. Possibly, this will drive down the expense of sensor setups across the self-driving industry.
In-house instead of borrowing
Lots of traditional automakers, as well as non-automotive tech companies, entered into the autonomous vehicle game in this year’s CES. However, instead of using lent tech, Waymo is focusing on in-house development, which helps it more tightly integrate its sensor software, hardware, as well as image recognition. The company also bills its network reaches better performance and resolution than the hardware previously used.
This dedicated internal fixing has other benefits too. Waymo innovated new short and long-range sensing units for their Pacifica minivans, while most of the self-driving vehicles depend on lone roof-mounted medium-range LiDAR. While primary R&D is always costly, Waymo’s research efforts have cut the expense of a single high-performance LiDAR by 90 percent from its initial $75,000 price tag when the company first started its autonomous development. The first Chrysler Pacifica minivans powered by the new in-house sensor suite will be available on roads of California and Arizona later January 2017.