Google’s self-driving technology has been in development for several years now, and it seems the project may soon graduate from Alphabet’s X Lab — its “moonshot” division of ambitious ventures — and into its own business unit. Project head John Krafcik said as much during the Nikkei Innovation Forum in Palo Alto two months ago, and new job listings spotted by Recode, suggests the split is happening soon.
Specifically, the autonomous car division has already hired a chief legal officer to deal with the large amounts of regulation surrounding autonomous driving, and is currently on the hunt for a head of real estate, which would be tasked with securing new space for testing its autonomous vehicles.
Google's self-driving the team is currently situated in the company's headquarters in Mountain View, California, but its cars are already in the midst of test pilots in Austin, Phoenix, and Washington state where it has secured state or city approval. Breaking off from X Labs will allow “significant growth in both team size and geographical footprint,” according to the job posting. It could also involve buying private land to test the technology in uncommon situations that might not be possible in public roads.
Google’s self driving car project recently hit the two million mile mark of miles driven. Their the cars have been involved in 14 minor collisions, 13 of which were the fault of other drivers.
However an autonomous Lexus SUV from Google was responsible for its first crash on February this year. According to the report, the Google AV switched lanes to make a right turn but detected sand bags blocking its path. When it attempted to proceed back into the center of the lane to pass the sand bags, it made contact with the side of a bus. Google’s car was in autonomous mode and driving at 2 mph at the time of the crash, the bus was driving at about 15 mph, and no injuries were reported.