Waymo, Google’s former self-driving car project that is now an independent business unit under Alphabet, is expanding its presence in the eastern United States. in the City of Steel.
The company will start by hiring a dozen engineers, a source familiar with the move told TechCrunch, and they will move into existing Google offices in the Bakery Square neighborhood. As of Thursday, only about three open positions for the Pittsburgh area were listed on Waymo’s website, but the company will be adding more roles soon.
Part of the new team will come from Pittsburgh-based RobotWits, a tech startup focused on autonomous vehicle decision-making. This includes RobotWits founder and CEO Maxim Likhachev, and other members of his engineering and technical team. Although Waymo did not technically acquire the startup, it did acquire the intellectual property rights for RobotWits, the source said.
There are currently no plans to deploy the so-called Waymo Driver, its autonomous driving platform, in Pittsburgh, the source added. Instead, the new team will work on movement planning development, real-time route planning, and Driver development. So far, Driver has been deployed in the Phoenix, Arizona, metro area. Its Waymo Via trucking and freight service will be rolled out as part of a trial with trucking logistics company JB Hunt Transport Services in Texas.
AV technology rivals Aurora, Motional, Argo AI have already established offices in the city; combined with the talent of Carnegie Melon University, the city has established itself as a veritable hub for autonomous engineering development. Pittsburgh is also home to many small AV startups, including Locomation, which works on self-driving trucks.
Waymo’s Pittsburgh site will join its network of offices in Mountain View, San Francisco, Phoenix, New York, Dallas and Hyderabad, India.