Despite minor roadblocks (leading to two accidents as well, which were of course not Google car’s errors), Google’s self-driving car project looks to be in full swing. The company announced yesterday, that its bringing one of the best minds in auto industry John Krafcik as head of its car project by the end of this month.
John Krafcik himself confirmed the news through his Twitter account by putting a Google Self Driving car as his profile background and said in a series of tweets,
Yes, true: I’m joining the Google Self-Driving Car project in late September.This is a great opportunity to help Google develop the enormous potential of self-driving cars. I can’t wait to get started.
John Krafcik is currently the president of online car shopping portal TrueCar Inc and in the past had served as the CEO of Hyundai as well as Chief Engineer at Ford where he was for 14 years also serving in various product development leadership positions.
A Mechanical engineering graduate from Stanford University, he is well known for developing an experimental project into a full fledged commercial business with his solid acumen for product development and with him on team, we may get to see self driving cars commercially available much sooner than expected.
A Google spokesperson told WSJ,
We’re feeling good about our progress, so now we’re investing in building out a team that can help us bring this technology to its full potential. John’s combination of technical expertise and auto-industry experience will be particularly valuable as we collaborate with many different partners to achieve our goal.
Chris Urmson who has been the head of the project since its inception in 2009 will now be the technical lead of the project focussing on vehicles technical development and software side.
In the announcement, Google also indicated towards the possibility of Google Car project which is currently under Google X lab, spinning out as a new entity under the parent company Alphabet in near future. The company said in a statement,
The project is not becoming an Alphabet company at this stage, though it’s certainly a good candidate to become one at some point in the future.
Till now, the company has been testing its cars and driving software in Mountain View, California and recently began testing its outfitted Lexus RX450h sport-utility vehicles in Austin, Texas.
In addition to these 23 Lexus RX450h SUVs self-driving cars on public streets in Mountain View and Austin, the company also has 25 two-seater prototype cars which are self-driving in Mountain View and are expected to come to Austin later this month.