Waymo, the Alphabet-owned self-driving car company, claims it has reduced the manufacturing costs of important components by 90% in recent years.
Waymo’s CEO John Krafcik made the announcement at Detroit’s Automobili-D conference on Sunday, stating that the key to reducing the production costs of the Lidar sensors used in its driverless cars was to develop them in-house.
The Lidar sensors are a radar-like technology which measures the distance to an object by illuminating it with a laser light. They cost $75,000 to produce in 2009.
Waymo has also designed new Lidar sensors of its own, creating short-range and long-range units to accompany the medium-range sensors it began with. These would be used, naturally, for identifying nearby objects and those in the distance.
Though Waymo is developing the self-driving components and systems which will be used in driverless vehicles, it will rely on partners to produce the actual cars themselves. Waymo is in discussions with Honda (see the link above), while Krafcik mentioned that 100 Pacifica self-driving minivans, born of Waymo’s relationship with Fiat Chrysler, will be tested on the roads in Arizona and California this month.