Google is setting up its self-driving car unit as its own separate entity called Waymo under the Alphabet umbrella.
The name is derived from its mission of finding “a new way forward in mobility.”
Google’s high-profile program, now in its seventh year, has been at the forefront of self-driving technology, but is now challenged by companies from Uber Technologies Inc to Apple Inc and traditional car companies in the fast-growing industry.
Fiat Chrysler, Google’s first partner, teamed up with the tech company in May to work together to integrate Google’s self-driving system with the carmaker’s minivans.
The alliance, which was not exclusive, allowed Fiat Chrysler to avoid major research costs in developing its own autonomous program, and let Google better understand how to refine its systems for use in regular production cars.
Google has expanded its program over the past year, hiring more engineers while doubling its testing centers from two U.S. cities to four. The company also plans to double its testing fleet with 100 Chrysler minivans through its partnership with Fiat Chrysler.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Waymo is officially a standalone business unit and the expectation is that it will soon be earning money.