Waymo's autonomous cars are already on public roads without safety drivers

EnlargeWaymo

Once these measures have passed - and other self-driving companies have developed more road-ready systems - fully self-driving test programs could rapidly expand. He expresses that if these last "sans-human" test drives based in Phoenix go well, it'll be a short gap to bridge between that and allowing passengers to ride in the automated minivans without a Waymo employee tagging along to ensure safety: "Once you've taken the driver out, putting a rider in becomes something like an afterthought". For the moment, this fully autonomous driving mode is limited to a 100 square mile metro region. In a blog post, the company announced that what you see in that video is what you'll be seeing pull up next to you at a traffic light.

Two years ago, the biz completed a fully self-driving trip on public roads, when a blind man traveled from a park to a doctor's office without anyone in the driver's seat.

In the year since it spun off from Google, Waymo has moved aggressively to test its cars on public roads. For eight years, the company has been developing the technology and doing test runs on public roads across 20 USA cities. The company has partnerships with Fiat-Chrysler, Lyft, and Avis, even while it's manufacturing its own sensors and hardware to reduce dependence on suppliers. "Because they no longer have to be designed around a driver, just people", Krafcik said. The Chrysler minivans have a small graphical interface in the back seat, which lets riders watch the driverless course, and buttons to call customer service or pull the auto over.

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Waymo is a company created out of Google's self-driving programme, and was seen as a way to step up efforts to commercialise the firm's industry-leading efforts in autonomy. With a tap of their phones, people will be able to summon "our fleet on-demand vehicles to do anything from commute to work, get home from a night out, or run errands".

The test without a human in the driver's seat is a first in the United States as large tech companies, big automakers and well-funded startups race to develop fully autonomous cars.

Although it has outlined its autonomous vehicles' safety procedures in the past-and today's announcement mentioned the word "safe" 10 times-Waymo wasn't immediately available to explain how riders will actually be able to halt a ride if they feel unsafe. Unlike California, which is another hotbed for self-driving vehicle testing, Arizona doesn't require companies to publicly disclose accidents involving its cars, nor the number of times human drivers were forced to take control of their driverless vehicles.

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