EAST PALO ALTO, U.S. -- Google parent Alphabet soon will split off the autonomous-vehicle division of the company's X innovation lab into a standalone subsidiary, aiming to accelerate development amid a race with rivals worldwide to get the technology to market.
The project is "partway through what we call a graduation," division CEO John Krafcik said at the Nikkei Innovation Forum here Wednesday. "We are moving out of X and will soon become [an] independent entity." Krafcik did not provide further details, such as the timing of the move or the new company's name.
The effort, launched in 2009, aims to commercialize vehicles that are fully autonomous, without even a steering wheel, accelerator or brake pedal.
Google has been moving lately to accelerate progress. The tech giant brought on Krafcik, a U.S. auto industry veteran and former president of Hyundai Motor America, as head of the self-driving car project in September 2015. The division reached a deal in May with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to jointly develop 100 test vehicles.
The team created a prototype based on the Pacifica minivan in 22 weeks, and testing has begun on a private track in California, Krafcik said.