Waymo has announced it will no longer use the term “self-driving,” embracing “fully autonomous driving technology” instead.
One of Alphabet’s subsidiary companies, Waymo is a company focused on autonomous driving in what is quickly becoming a crowded industry. Waymo says it is making the distinction in an effort to save lives, highlighting that its software is far different than “self-driving” software that still requires human interaction.
It may seem like a small change, but it’s an important one, because precision in language matters and could save lives. We’re hopeful that consistency will help differentiate the fully autonomous technology Waymo is developing from driver-assist technologies (sometimes erroneously referred to as “self-driving” technologies) that require oversight from licensed human drivers for safe operation. Regardless of who or what is at the helm, safely operating a vehicle on public roads requires careful execution of all the elements of the driving task. Today, the Waymo Driver makes billions of decisions each day as it safely moves people and goods to their destination in fully autonomous mode.
The fact that Waymo is taking the time make a distinction between “self-driving” and “fully autonomous” is evidence of what’s at stake in the automotive industry.
The autonomous driving industry is estimated to reach a staggering $556.67 billion by 2026. As a result, companies like Waymo will be doing everything possible to set themselves apart and gain as big a piece of that market as possible.