SAN FRANCISCO -- At a press conference in Google's office here last week, John Krafcik, former head of the tech giant's self-driving car project, talked about his new job title: CEO of Waymo, a stand-alone mobility company under Google's parent company, Alphabet Inc.
Reporters listened intently as Krafcik spoke, then bent over their laptops to spread the news. That's when a video began rolling.
The video -- not as flashy as a Google-born company with a pithy name -- was narrated and featured happy, mellow music while showing a content man in glasses, wind in his hair, riding alone in one of Waymo's cars on the streets of Austin, Texas.
The video was proof of an apparent first in self-driving technology: someone riding in a fully self-driving vehicle on public roads, without a steering wheel or brake pedals, unsupervised by an engineer.
The significance of the ride was lost in the news coverage, which focused primarily on Waymo's new name, business goals and whether consumers are ready for the technology.
But people involved in the ride saw it as something bigger, comparing it to one historic event.
"Austin is the Kitty Hawk of driverless cars," Steve Adler, mayor of Austin, said in a statement, referring to the place where the Wright brothers recorded the first flight. "We should all be proud that our creative and innovative city is where such a huge leap forward can take place."