Google self-driving car unit to become Waymo

By By Alexandria Sage Features Reuters

FILE PHOTO - Journalists take a test drive in a prototype of Google's own self-driving vehicle during a media preview of Google's current autonomous vehicles in Mountain View, California September 29, 2015. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage (Copyright Reuters 2016)

Alphabet Inc's Google self-driving car project will become an independent entity within the technology company called Waymo, executives said on Tuesday.

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The announcement marks a crucial step in the development of Google's high-profile program, now in its seventh year. It has been at the forefront of self-driving technology, but faces increased competition from rivals.

"It's an indication of the maturity of our technology," John Krafcik, the project's chief executive, told reporters. "We can imagine our self-driving tech being used in all sorts of areas."

(Reporting By Alexandria Sage; Editing by Bernard Orr)