Waymo May Sell Autonomous Hardware to Other Companies

When Alphabet’s car unit Waymo launches commercially it will have a specialized self-driving hardware built in-house. According to Bloomberg Waymo unveiled an improved suite of sensors and said it had slashed the cost of the pivotal technology at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. So far, Waymo has cut a deal with one carmaker, Fiat Chrysler, to outfit vehicles with its full self-driving kit, including hardware and software.

In the future, would Waymo sell hardware, like its new, cheaper LiDAR sensors, to other companies? "Possibly," John Krafcik, Waymo’s CEO, said in an interview with Bloomberg News. The strategy would be a departure for the Google parent, which has touted its own complete autonomous vehicles in the past, not specific components. Sensor sales would give Waymo another crack at industry deals. Some carmakers, including Ford, have balked during partnership talks over disagreements about data sharing, people familiar with the discussions have said.

Waymo’s decision to build its own sensors, radar and cameras, in addition to software, may increase competition with companies that supply driverless technology to auto manufacturers. "There is a chance that this development by Google will be considered further progress at a faster rate of change than Mobileye,"  Neil Campling, head of global tech, media and telecom research at Northern Trust Capital Markets, wrote in an e-mail. "The same could suggest that Google is moving further towards offering end-to-end solutions for the auto OEMs in the AV world and undermining Mobileye’s position."

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