Waymo, Google’s former self-driving car project that is now a separate business unit of Alphabet, is expanding its presence in the eastern US in the steel city.
The company will initially hire about a dozen engineers, a source familiar with the move told TechCrunch, and they will be based in Google’s existing offices in the Bakery Square neighborhood. As of Thursday, Waymo’s website had only about three open positions for the Pittsburgh area listed, but the company will be adding more positions shortly.
Part of the new team will come from Pittsburgh-based RobotWits, a technology startup focused on decision-making in autonomous vehicles. This includes the founder and CEO of RobotWits, Maxim Likhachev, and other members of the engineering and technical team. While Waymo technically did not acquire the startup, it did acquire RobotWits’ IP rights, the source said.
There are currently no plans to deploy the Waymo Driver, its autonomous driving platform, in Pittsburgh, the source added. Instead, the new team will work on the development of motion planning, real-time route planning and the development of Driver. Previously, Driver has been used in the greater Phoenix, Arizona area. His trucking and cargo service Waymo Via is being used in a test run with trucking logistics company JB Hunt Transport Services in Texas.
AV tech rivals Aurora, Motional and Argo AI have already opened offices in the city; Together with talent at Carnegie Melon University, the city has established itself as a real hub for autonomous technical development. Pittsburgh is also home to many smaller AV startups, including Locomation, which is working on autonomous trucks.
Waymo’s Pittsburgh location will be added to its network of offices in Mountain View, San Francisco, Phoenix, New York, Dallas and Hyderabad, India.