In 2018, Alphabet’s autonomous driving unit Waymo is leading its competitors in terms of miles driven by autonomous vehicles. In October, the company reached 10 million miles of testing with autonomous vehicles. Just 11 months before that, they had 4 million miles, meaning they covered an impressive 6 million miles in 11 months. Apart from miles driven in public streets, Waymo has recorded 7 billion virtual miles done through software simulations to test its technology.
Not all of Waymo’s competitors are public about their numbers, but some numbers for comparison are provided by DMV reports. According to a California DMV Report, General Motors’ autonomous driving unit Cruise Automation had over 125,000 miles driven by their autonomous vehicles in 2017. Waymo, by comparison, had over 350,000 miles covered in California in the same period. Cruise planned on reaching similar numbers to those of Waymo by 2018, but reports in October indicated the company missed its goal of having its autonomous vehicles drive 1 million miles per month.
Apart from having the most miles when compared to its competitors, Waymo also leads the autonomous driving industry because it is closest to commercializing its vehicles. Based in Arizona, Waymo’s Early Rider program already allows the public to test the company’s autonomous vehicles for personal use. This has allowed the company to learn about the public’s sentiment regarding autonomous vehicles and about potential pricing for their services.
Waymo is preparing for the commercialization of its autonomous vehicles. The company is reportedly ordering over 60,000 Fiat Chrysler Pacifica Minivans and 20,000 Jaguar i-Paces throughout the next two years in order to have options for customers when using the autonomous driving service. According to a report by Morgan Stanley, Waymo has an opportunity worth $175 billion, combining its potential autonomous ride-sharing services, delivery services, and other uses of self-driving technology.
From an investor’s perspective, it should be acknowledged that although Waymo is leading the autonomous vehicles’ industry right now, there is still a long way to go until Waymo has a significant impact on its parent company Alphabet. It is yet to be seen how Government regulations will affect the timeline for commercialization plans that Waymo and its competitors have.