Google parent company Alphabet is separating its self-driving car project into a new business called Waymo.
John Krafcik, chief executive officer of Waymo, announced the move on Tuesday at an event in San Francisco. The company has been developing autonomous vehicle technology for more than six years, as part of its X research lab.
Google says the robot car company's new name, "Waymo," stands for "Way forward in mobility."
"We will continue to have access to infrastructure and resources Alphabet provides, but in this new world as Waymo we also have this feeling like we are a venture-backed startup," Krafcik said. Those resources include Google’s software code from the autonomous project, and its powerful data centers.
Traditional automakers and rivals like Uber Technologies and Tesla Motors develop and move forward with their own autonomous-vehicle systems. After revealing the company name, Krafcik didn’t offer any details on Waymo’s plans for a viable commercial business.
Still, Waymo plans to start a ride-sharing service with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NA minivans using semi-autonomous technology as early as the end of 2017, according to a Bloomberg report.
"Waymo’s next step will be to let people use our vehicles to do everyday things like run errands, commute to work, or get safely home after a night on the town," the company said in a statement.
Krafcik said Waymo is adding new specialized sensors to Chrysler vehicles now, but didn’t comment on how program has evolved, only noting that Fiat "has been a wonderful partner."
"There are so many models for us to contribute to," the Waymo CEO said. "I think we’ve been really clear that we’re not a car company. We’re not in the business of making better cars, we’re in the business of making better drivers."