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Waymo hires safety and business chiefs ahead of self-driving launch



waymo jaguar i-paceWaymo

  • Waymo has
    hired a former NTSB head as its first chief safety officer, the
    company announced Tuesday.
  • Amee Chandee will become Waymo’s first chief commercial
  • Hersman and Chandee join secretive Alphabet subsidiary as it
    races to launch commercial rides in self-driving cars. 

Alphabet’s secretive self-driving car startup, announced two new
executives on Tuesday as it races to launch commercial rides as
soon as next month.

Deborah Hersman, former chair of the National Transportation
Safety Board and CEO of the National Safety Council, will become
Waymo’s first-ever chief safety officer in January.

“I’ve dedicated my career to promoting safety in our
communities,” she
said in a press release
. “I’m joining Waymo because of the
potential to make an even greater impact on reducing road
injuries and fatalities.”

Amee Chandee is also joining Waymo as chief commercial officer.
She has previously held posts at Alibaba, Walmart, Staples, and

“I’m proud to welcome two talented and experienced executives in
the field of safety and business operations who will lead us into
our next phase of growth,” Waymo CEO John Krafcik said in a press
release. “As we begin to make our self-driving cars available to
the public, safety will continue to be front-and-center of
everything we do. Debbie has dedicated her career to safety and
will lead our efforts to evolve our world-class safety program so
we can deliver on our mission to make our roads safer.”

Read more: 

Uber, Waymo, and Cruise are facing a major reality check as
problems mount for their self-driving car tech

Earlier this month, Krafcik said the company is on track to begin
offering commercial rides in its self-driving cars in Phoenix as
early as next month
. However, The Information’s Amir Efrati reported Tuesday
that those rides will be done with a human “safety driver”
on-board to ensure against any accidents.

A backup driver’s inclusion is significant as a whole slew of
tech companies, from Waymo to Uber and Tesla race to get their
self-driving tech up to speed for fully autonomous driving. And
even then, those safety drivers aren’t always perfect.

In October, a Waymo car side-swiped a motorcycle in California, sending
the rider to the hospital
. The company said that its
software would have likely avoided the accident, and that it was
the human driver’s fault.

“Incidents like this are what motivate all of us at Waymo to work
diligently and safely to bring our technology to
roads,” said
Waymo’s Krafcik
, “because this is the type of
situation self-driving vehicles can prevent.”

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