Waymo Begins Testing Completely Self-Driving Cars on Public Roads


And it will soon offer rides to the public

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Waymo, the autonomous tech division spun off from Google’s self-driving car project, announced today that after eight years of development, it will begin testing true driverless vehicles in the Phoenix metro area. The cars will still have steering wheels, so they won’t be the Level 5 autonomous vehicles it’s working towards. But Waymo believes its technology is advanced enough that it no longer needs anyone in the driver’s seat, even as an emergency backup.

Waymo is also confident enough in its technology that it says it will begin offering rides to the public. Interested locals can sign up for an early rider program that will give them access to a self-driving car share service. Once registered, they’ll be able to request rides to work, school, dinner, or anywhere else they need to go as long as it’s within the service area. As the program grows more popular, expect to see it expand to cover an area “the size of Greater London.”

This news doesn’t, however, mean the self-driving revolution is here. Yes, Waymo plans to let the public use its self-driving cars, but they’ll only be able to do so in a relatively small area. Phoenix also rarely experiences the kind of inclement weather that autonomous technology still struggles to handle. The company has been running cold weather tests since 2012 and will bring its self-driving cars to Michigan this winter for more testing.

It’s pretty cool that autonomous technology has advanced to the point that even a small group of people can use self-driving cars to get around. How successful (and safe) the program will be still remains to be seen, but the fact that we’ve gotten to the point where this is even possible is pretty impressive.

Source: Waymo

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