I see people confused about who is ahead and why. People think Waymo is ahead because their tech is best. This is only
a small part of the story. Waymo has the most mature technology. They started earlier and have the most confidence in their software, and have driven the most miles, they also have teams doing simulations, in the real and virtual worlds.
However, to commercialize their product it takes something besides the most mature tech. That magic is infrastructure. Waymo has customer service centers set-up to deal with issues in the field. They have to write software to link those centers to the cars and customers apps. They have programs to work with local police and fire to train them how to deal with the cars. They have offices and people on the ground in the launch cities to deal with issues that come up. They have a mapping team that has mapped several cities and is ready to start on new ones with procedures and people in place. They have government affairs people to deal with local governments, smooth things over and lobby. They have PR response teams to deal with accidents and the press. They have deals to work with the rental car companies to maintain and clean their cars. They have Realestate in multiple cities to store and manage fleets and house offices.
This is what commercialization looks like. No other company is near commercialization. If your self driving start up doesn’t have 500-1000 people working for it, it’s not near commercialization. If you have 10 people your purpose is to be acquired.
It’s waymo and Cruise, and Cruise is only a player because GM can deliver lots of infrastructure.