Waymo

Playing God (virtually) with self-driving vehicles

Illustration of a car half in the real world and half in the virtual one
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Self-driving test vehicles can’t possibly log enough real-world miles to ensure they are safe under every circumstance, but new tools allow manufacturers to test more of the rare but still possible scenarios they might encounter.

Why it matters: Extensive simulation is critical if autonomous vehicles are to be ready any time soon. Real-world testing on public roads is slow and limited — AVs could drive around for decades waiting for challenging conditions or interesting anomalies that would help train them to handle those so-called edge cases.

Expert Voices

Real estate is emerging as an AV battleground

Illustration of for sale sign with license plate that reads "4sale"
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As leading autonomous vehicle companies seek to bring “robotaxis” to market, their competition could extend from AI-powered software into a new arena: real estate.

The big picture: Today's ride-hailing companies are software-only platforms. But as AV technology goes commercial, companies that plan to own and operate fleets of robotaxis — including Waymo and GM Cruise — will need considerable real estate footprints to store, clean, refuel and repair thousands of vehicles.