John Krafcik is stepping down as CEO of Waymo after nearly six years leading the self-driving car project at Google’s parent company, Alphabet.
Krafcik will remain advisor to Waymo
Krafcik, 59, said in a blog post on Friday that he would remain an advisor to Waymo, at the same time calling his experience at the company the “cornerstone” of his career in the auto industry. Remember that before working for Waymo, the manager dragged his gaiters to Hyundai, Ford and NUMMI, a joint venture owned by GM and Toyota.
Krafcik joined Waymo in 2015.
Krafcik gives way to two GMs
Waymo will now have two co-CEOs, Dmitri Dolgov and Tekedra Mawakana, who previously served as the company’s chief technology officer and chief operating officer respectively.
Tekedra Mawakana reached the top of the podium four years after joining the company and having recently held the position of Chief Operating Officer. Dmitri Dolgov started his career with the company in 2009 when the company was formed under the name of Google’s Self-Driving Car Project.
Krafcik driving the deployment of Waymo’s 1st carpooling service
Krafcik chaired Waymo’s deployment of the first fully autonomous ridesharing service in Chandler, Arizona in 2018.
Waymo is widely regarded as the leading developer of fully autonomous vehicles, which do not need human supervision to drive safely.
But Waymo, like the entire autonomous driving industry, has struggled to stick to the schedules it has set for itself. Building self-driving cars is extremely difficult and expensive. Waymo, even with the funding from Alphabet, said it raised $ 3.25 billion in external funding.
This autonomous driving which cannot speak its name
At Waymo, Krafcik increasingly clashed with Tesla CEO Elon Musk, whose use of the word “drive” angered many autonomous experts in autonomous vehicles.
Waymo went so far as to stop using the term “autonomous driving” earlier this year. It now qualifies its vehicles as “fully autonomous”.
Building a fully autonomous vehicle is a much more difficult challenge than the “autonomous driving” features that Musk offers, which is akin to improved cruise control. Autonomous vehicle experts have long feared that labeling a vehicle with improved cruise control as “autonomous driving” will cause drivers to over-trust the technology, leading to accidents.
Sources : CNN, Reuters, Automotive News