Tekedra Mawakana will help Waymo naviguate the minefield of placing autonomous vehicles on the road and deal with various state governments while at the same time respect concerns on job security and safety.
For Alphabet’s self-driving car project, the biggest challenge isn’t the technology per say, its ensuring that there is regulatory framework that allows the placing of autonomous technology on the roads.
Towards this end, Alphabet’s Waymo has hired Tekedra Mawakana, as its new VP for public policy. He will champion the company’s fight to put in place the regulations that it think are required.
In Waymo CEO, John Krafcik’s words, she’ll help “realize the enormous safety, mobility and economic benefits” of autonomous tech.
This isn’t the first time that Mawakana’s has had to dabble in enabling tech policy. Before she joined Waymo, she was heading government relations at eBay. Before that she was a key policy official at AOL. She also served as Yahoo’s deputy general counsel.
Clearly, she is an executive who knows how to navigate the crafty world of politics, which could well turn out to be critical for the nascent industry that is autonomous automated vehicles.
The situation is complex in the US, wherein states such as California are more open to self-driving cars, whereas Tennessee, Georgia, Illinois and Maryland have considered putting restrictions in place for autonomous vehicles.
And this is just the United States. There are other countries she will have to tackle, including driver lobby groups, who are desperate to protect their jobs.
Mawakana will have to carefully dance around regulations to ensure that regulations are sufficiently loose enough to push autonomous vehicles and still respect concerns on job security and safety.